How Hate Crime Laws Can Protect Everyone

Jim Burroway

September 28th, 2006

It appears that a hate crime may have been committed in Colorado Springs Tuesday night.

You may remember a few months back when the Gill Foundation kicked off an ad campaign featuring a dog trying to “moo” as a humorous illustration that being gay is not the result of a choice. Focus on the Family countered with a “No Moo Lies” campaign. Christina and Brandon Sewall of Briargate, CO., participated by placing “No moo lies” signs in their yard.

Since then vandals have damaged or stolen the signs, to which the Sewalls responded by just putting even more signs in their yard. They also started running a video security camera overnight. Tuesday evening, someone was caught on tape piling the signs, trash, and patio furniture onto the Sewall’s front lawn and setting it on fire.

The investigation is continuing. If it turns out that whoever did this was motivated by bias against the Sewall’s position against homosexuality, it may fall under Colorado’s hate crime laws protecting its citizens against bias crimes based on sexual orientation.

You read that right. You see, lost behind all of the rhetoric of “special rights”, it turns out that hate crime laws which include sexual orientation really do protect everyone. According to the FBI’s most recent hate crime report, there were thirty-three anti-heterosexual hate crime incidents affecting thirty-six victims in 2004. And I noted in our report, Federal Hate Crime Statistics: Why the Numbers Don’t Add Up, there are many reasons to believe that this is an undercount. In fact, the undercount may be quite substantial since most people assume that hate crime laws only protect the minority.

I don’t know the specifics of Colorado’s hate crime law, nor do we know what the outcome of the investigation will wind up being. But it may well be ironic that a law that has been vigorously opposed by Focus on the Family for “promoting the homosexual lifestyle” may, in fact, serve to protect a participant in a Focus on the Family action.

And while it would be ironic, it would nevertheless be appropriate, depending on what the investigation finds. Because it turns out that anybody can be a victim of hate. And everyone deserves the protection of hate crime laws.

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