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Posts for November, 2009

Hate Crimes Based On Sexual Orientation Still Most Violent

Jim Burroway

November 27th, 2009

One trend that we can legitimately identify in the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics for 2008 is this: hate crime offenses based on sexual orientation continue to be the most physically violent. When you look at physically violent hate crimes against persons (murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, and aggravated and simple assault) as a percentage of all hate crimes for each protected category, those who are singled out based on sexual orientation are really taking it on the chin:

Total Hate Crime Offenses, 2008 Violent Crimes, percentage of total
Race 4,704 1,414 30%
Religion 1,606 162 10%
Sexual Orientation 1,617 744 46%
Ethnicity 1,148 464 40%
Disability 85 33 39%
TOTAL 9,168 2,821 31%
Totals don’t add up due to additional
multi-category hate crime offenses.

Sexual Orientation Hate Crimes: Did They Really Go Up?

Jim Burroway

November 27th, 2009

The FBI has issued its annual Hate Crimes Statistics for 2008, and there’s a lot of talk about how much the statistics for hate crimes based on sexual orientation went up. But before we jump on that bandwagon, Andrew Sullivan points us to an important caution by Mark Thompson who sees what he considers an “annual misuse of hate crime statistics“:

Every year around this time, the FBI publishes its statutorily-mandated annual report on hate crime statistics.  Like clockwork, every year that report gets misused no matter what the FBI does to discourage that misuse (previous examples of misuse here).  This year is no exception, as several prominent liberal sites have picked up on the lede that this year’s report shows a “sharp increase” in anti-gay hate crime while also noting that race-based hate crimes barely decreased at all.

The problem is that these particular FBI statistics are virtually useless for evaluating year-to-year trends – always have been, always will be.  This year, the FBI itself went out of its way to warn against such readings, stating “our Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program doesn’t report trends in hate crime stats—yearly increases or decreases often occur because the number of agencies who report to us varies from year to year.”

Reporting hate crimes to the FBI is voluntary.  Local law enforcement agencies aren’t required to participate in the FBI’s hate crime statistics gathering program, nor do they receive any federal funds when they do so. This means that year t0 year, different segments of the total U.S. population are represented in the hate crime statistics depending on whether the local law enforcement agency chooses to participate.

In 2003, 11,909 law enforcement agencies covering 82.3% of the population participated in the program. In 2008, that number reached a record high of 13,690 agencies covering 88.6% of the population. By the way, that’s up from 13,241 last year, in which 86.3% of the population was covered. Meanwhile, the U.S. added an estimated 2.4 million people to the overall population according the the U.S. Census Bureau.

All of that together is a complicated way of noting that the population covered by the 2008 hate crimes statistics is 3.4% larger than that covered by the 2007 statistics. This means that even if hate crimes went up 3.4% over last year, it means that the rate of hate crimes is effectively unchanged.

So having said all that, let’s look at the hate crimes statistics themselves. The FBI collects three sets of hate crime statistics: hate crime incidents, offenses, and victims. According to the FBI’s definition, an incident represents a single occurrence of one or more hate crime offenses (each offense being an assault, a robbery, an act of vandalism, etc.) against one or more victims. The statistics for 2008 look like this (2007 data in parentheses):

Total Hate Crime Incidents, 2008
(2007)
Total Hate Crime Offenses,
2008
(2007)
Total Hate Crime Victims, 2008
(2007)
Race 3,992
(3,870)
4,704
(4,724)
4,934
(4,965)
Religion 1,519
(1,400)
1,606
(1,477)
1,732
91,628)
Sexual Orientation 1,297
(1,265)
1,617
(1,460)
1,706
(1,512)
Ethnicity 894
(1,007)
1,148
(1,256)
1,226
(1,347)
Disability 78
(79)
85
(82)
86
(84)
TOTAL 7,783
(7,624)
9,168
(9,006)
9,691
(9,535)
Totals don’t add up due to additional
multi-category hate crime incidents, offenses and victims.

From a raw numerical standpoint, hate crimes went up broadly in most categories (race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.)  and by most measures (incidents, offenses and victims). So now it’s time to factor in the growth of reporting agencies as well as the growth of the overall U.S. population. And to try to discern longer-term trends, let’s go back to 2000 and see what it all looks like. The following graphs show what the hate crimes data looks like over the past decade as a proportion to the size of the population covered in those respective years.

incidentsOffensesVictimsThe most notable trend can be seen in reported hate crimes based on race., which have been decreasing dropping through most of the decade. Also notable is the slow but inconsistently lowering of hate crimes based on ethnicity following a huge spike in 2001, caused by a large surge in crimes against people of Middle Eastern backgrounds following 9/11. (Anti-Islamic sentiment also contributed to a spike in religious-based hate crimes the same year.)

But for hate crimes based on sexual orientation, the message appears mixed. One might be tempted to conclude that there has been a slight overall rise in hate crimes based on sexual orientation over the past three years. But given the many issues which contribute to inaccuracies in reporting of hate crimes based on sexual orientation, it is virtually impossible to categorically announce such a trend, as many other web sites have done. The kind of changes that we’re seeing year-to-year amount to statistical noise are clouded by many factors including:

  • Changes in law enforcement agencies who choose to volunteer in the voluntary reporting program. Each year, some drop out as others are added, all with different demographics in their populations).
  • Differences in how investigators are trained to investigate hate crime bias, as well as inconsistencies in how prosecutors pursue hate crime enhancements.
  • Differences in state law, where many states do not cover sexual orientation in their hate crime statutes, giving local investigators and prosecutors little incentive to even investigate and report bias motivation where sexual orientation is concerned. We delved into that in greater detail in 2006 here.
  • Many local jurisdictions are increasingly sensitive to hate crime bias based on sexual orientation. Increases in reports of hate crimes based on sexual orientation may merely reflect better reporting of hate crimes, and not a rise in the actual number or rate of such crimes.

And with this years’ passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, observable trends over the next several years will be massively complicated as aspects of the law dealing with local assistance and reporting go into effect. With all these factors in play, it would take a considerable swing to be able to discern a real trend in hate crimes based on sexual orientation. That large swing isn’t there, and any attempt to divine a trend based on sexual orientation is unjustified. Mark Thompson is right. There just isn’t quite enough there there.

But there is one disturbing trend that you can legitimately draw from the latest hate crime statistics: hate crimes based on sexual orientation are noticeably more violent than crimes motivated by other biases.

Atlanta sued for Eagle raid

Timothy Kincaid

November 24th, 2009

On September 10, Atlanta police stormed the Eagle, a gay bar, treating all patrons like criminals, disregarding their civil rights, and subjecting them to homophobic language. They seemed to presume that illegal sex and drugs would be found which would justify this extreme action on their part.

There was no sex. Although patrons were individually searched (without cause or warrant) not a single illegal substance was found. And though police ran a check on each person, not even a warrant for an outstanding jaywalking ticket was identified.

So since this was just begging for a lawsuit, Lambda Legal has obliged. (Windy City Times)

In the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia today, Lambda Legal and co-counsel filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta, the Chief of Police and forty-eight individual officers of the Atlanta Police Department on behalf of nineteen individuals who, on September 10 at the Atlanta Eagle gay bar, were forcibly searched and detained.

“The illegal activity going on in the Atlanta Eagle that night was committed by the APD,” said Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. “If it is APD procedure for elderly men and wounded veterans to be thrown to the floor and harassed simply for being in a bar having a drink after work, then the APD should change its procedures.”

No doubt the police will issue a report in which they find themselves faultless, within procedure, and without blame.

Texas kid beaten with metal pole, entirely preventable

Timothy Kincaid

November 19th, 2009

LanghamCreekHighSchoolFew hate crimes are specifically preventable. It is not often that the intended violence is known in advance and reported to authorities. Which makes the case of Jayron Martin so frustrating and infuriating.

A fellow student warned Jayron that a group of students planned on beating him because he’s gay. So Jayron reported the threat to two assistant principals, who did nothing to protect him.

When Jayron got on the bus to go home (as the school opted not to call his mother) so did the group of attackers. Jayron then told the bus driver and begged for help. He didn’t get any.

So he ran. As fast as he could. Which wasn’t fast enough.

Unable to make it home, he ran into a neighbor’s house; but this didn’t deter his attackers. They followed and one beat Jayron with a metal pole while eight others watched.

It wasn’t until the owner came downstairs with a shotgun, and cocked it, that they ran off leaving Jayron with a concussion, bruised and bleeding.

Those who oppose gay-straight alliances or other support systems for gay students like to pretend that gay students face no greater threats than any other students. And when situations occur, they comfort their biases with the thought that the student must have provoked the situation or didn’t take the expected steps to protect himself.

I wonder what excuse they will give this time. But, then again, I also often wonder how they sleep at night.

What are anti-gays on?

Timothy Kincaid

November 17th, 2009

rick scarboroughYesterday a collection of the nation’s most obnoxious anti-gay activists showed up in Washington DC to have a showdown with the government. They were there to defy the new law criminalizing preaching against homosexuality and to be arrested for preaching the gospel. (Christian Post)

Conservative pastors rallied outside the Justice Department on Monday to test the limits of the newly expanded hate crimes law.

Calling the new law – which broadens the definition of federal hate crimes to include attacks based on sexual orientation and gender identity – a clear threat to religious liberty, the group sought to defend their freedom to proclaim biblical truths.

They were certain that preaching against homosexuality is now illegal. And they were there to be martyrs for their faith.

But there were no arrests. No one had to join the Apostle Paul and Martin Luther King by writing from the jail cell to proclaim God’s glorious truth.

Police were present, just as they are at all such public demonstrations. But, as Dana Milbank of the Washington Post noted they had better things to do:

Anything other than sex “between a male and his wedded wife,” announced the Rev. Paul Blair, “is a perversion, and the Bible says that homosexuality is in fact an abomination.”

No arrest was made.

The Rev. Rick Scarborough, quoting Scripture, listed “homosexual offenders” along with thieves, drunkards, swindlers and idolators as those unwelcome in the kingdom of God. “To fail to call homosexuals to repent of their sin and come to Jesus is the highest form of cowardice and sin,” he said.

No charges were filed.

“Had people listened to our plea, there would be tens of thousands of people who had not died of a dreaded disease,” contributed the Rev. Jim Garlow. “This breaks our heart to see people die of AIDS.”

No hands were cuffed. In fact, the few cops in attendance were paying no attention to the speakers, instead talking among themselves and checking their BlackBerrys.

And, indeed, the cops were not interested because no crime was being committed. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act does not infringe on religious liberty or ban preaching against homosexuality or anything else they fear. The only time a minister need fear the law is if he is actively instigating violent attacks on gay people.

But this reality is wasted on these activists. Even though their bait drew no bite, they remain convinced that Christianity is being criminalized. (Citizenlink)

Gary Cass, president and CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, said pastors who preach from the Bible could be held accountable if someone hears their sermon and then commits a crime against a gay-identified individual.

“It puts the burden on the minister to have to read the minds of the people that are listening to him and be able to predict the future,” he said. “It has a very chilling effect on the minister’s speech, because the safest thing is to just say nothing.”

And Janet Folger trumpeted her warning on WorldNetDaily

janet folger

Unfortunately, it’s too late for our freedom of speech, as so-called “hate crimes” legislation already passed Congress and was signed by Barack Obama into law as a part of the defense budget. That is why I stood with pastors like Rick Scarborough of Vision America, Mat Staver and Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel, Oklahoma Pastor Paul Blair, San Diego Pastor Jim Garlow, Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, Bishop Earl Jackson of Stand America, and others on the steps of the Department of Justice yesterday afternoon speaking out against the law that has already laid the foundation for the Criminalization of Christianity, as I warned about in my book by that same title.

It can be difficult to understand exactly why these activists ignore the opinions of legal scholars who assure them that no such arrests will be made. It is odd that Christian voices calling for reason are ignored. It seems incomprehensible that a simple reading of the Constitution and the language of the law itself (which specifically excludes anti-gay preaching and teaching) would not assuage their fears.

But then something began to seem familiar.

You see, I’ve tried to have a conversation with a crystal methamphetamine addict who hadn’t slept in days. He explained why there was tinfoil over the windows and even the shower vent. He was worried that there might be a man hiding behind the stereo which was flush with the wall. Even though on a conscious level he knew and could sheepishly admit that his fears were baseless, the meth in his system compelled a paranoia which he simply could not ignore.

With him, there was a logical reason to explain his irrational thinking. It was chemically induced.

But why are these anti-gay activists convinced, against all evidence to the contrary, that preaching against homosexuality is now illegal? How do we explain their irrational thinking and baseless paranoia?

Surely they aren’t all meth-heads.

Right?

Orlando LGBT Center Vandalized

Jim Burroway

November 17th, 2009

WKMG in Orlando reports:

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Community Center of Central Florida — more commonly known as The Center — and a second nearby gay-owned business were targeted by vandals who spray painted with a swastika and the words “Gay Pawer,” “Die Fags,” “Go To Hell” and other homophobic slurs. Damage to the two buildings is estimated to be over $1,000.

…Fund raising efforts to install security cameras have been ramped up in the wake of the incident.

Puerto Rico Police Arrest Suspect In Gruesome Murder

Jim Burroway

November 17th, 2009
Jorge Steven López

Jorge Steven López

Last last week, the brutally butchered body of nineteen-year-old Jorge Steven López was found by the side of a road near Cayey, Puerto Rico, just a few miles from his home in Caguas. Police have now arrested a suspect in the case.

On Nov 13, López’s body was found partially burned, decapitated, and dismembered. According to reports, both arms and both legs were cut from his torso. The gruesome murder sent shock waves throughout Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican community in New York.

Initial reports held out little hope that a proper investigation would be conducted. One investigator, Ángel Rodríguez Colón, told a Univision reporter, “Este tipo de personas cuando se meten a esto y salen a la calle saben que esto les puede pasar. (This type of person, when he does things like this and go out on the street knows that this can happen to him.)” Puerto Rican LGBT activist Pedro Julio Serrano denounced the investigator and called for disciplinary action.

Early today, police arrested a twenty-sixeight year old male in connection with the case and seized two vehicles as evidence. So far, his name has not been released. (See update below.) Primera Hora reportsthat the man came under suspicion after police question López’s friends in Caguas, who reported that the suspect offered López money in exchange for sex.

Regional police director Hector Agosto saidthat police are investigation whether López’s murder was motivated by anti-gay hatred. “This was a ruthless crime,” said Agosto. “Whoever did this just wanted to make the person disappear.” But he cautioned that the investigation has just begun and police were investigating several possible motives.

LGBT advocates have urged officials to investigate under the recently passed U.S. federal statues protecting LGBT people against hate crimes. Harry Rodriguez of the FBI said they are monitoring the case and will provide any assistance needed in accordance with the hate crimes statute.

Update: Local media are now identifying the suspect as 26-year-old Juan Antonio Martínez Matos, who is running the gay/trans panic defense. Martínez is reported to claim that he was in the area looking to pick up a woman. He first thought López was a women but discovered that he was a man. He also claimed that López demanded money. Police investigators found a wig, a burned mattress, burned PVC pipe, a knife and blood stains on the wall of the courtyard of the suspect’s apartment.  Investigator José J. Bermúdez is quoted as saying that he has no doubt that López’s murder can be prosecuted as a hate crime.

Sometimes Freud Was Right

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2009
A man with issues.

A man with issues.

On Monday, Marine reservist Jasen Bruce attacked a visiting Greek Orthodox priest with a tire iron after the priest asked him for directions. Bruce originally claimed that he attacked Rev. Alexois Marakis, whose English is poor, because he thought the man was an Islamic terrorist. Now Bruce, who’s also a beefcake model, is changing his story. He’s switching to the gay panic defense, claiming the priest tried to grab his genitals.

How many issues can you count in that paragraph?

Ft. Worth Officers’ Punishment Slap on Wrist

Timothy Kincaid

November 5th, 2009

FtWorthCoverUpThe Ft. Worth police department has now announced the punishment that will given to officers who stormed a gay bar on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, harassed the patrons, and left Chad Gibson in the hospital with bleeding on the brain. They also announced the reasons for the punishment. (cbs11tv)

Thursday morning FWPD Chief Jeff Halstead held a press conference in front of the Rainbow Lounge to announce the disciplinary action. There the chief confirmed that two police officers, Officer K.Q. Gober and Sgt. R.M. Morris, will be suspended for one day and Officer J.M. Back received a three-day suspension.

The officers were suspended for a violation of police procedures during the inspection of the bar.

The officer that was suspended for three days, J.M. Back, was cited for handcuffing a person without probable cause, for releasing that person without issuing a citation, bringing unfavorable criticism to the police department and for failing to complete offense reports the night of the arrest.

Sgt. Morris was suspended for using “poor judgment in his tactics” to conduct the bar check.

Officer Gober was suspended for making a conscious decision not to complete the required offense report before the end of his shift and did not complete the offense report until his return to work the following night. Gober was also reprimanded for the negative media attention that “could have been adverted had Officer Gober completed the required offense report with the true and accurate details of events that occurred during the Rainbow Lounge bar check.

Yes, you read that correctly. They are being punished for “negative media attention” and, get this, for letting Chad Gibson go to the hospital without being issued a citation.

So far, the version of “true and accurate details of events” that the police seem to be believing is far from the version of “true and accurate details of events” that the eyewitnesses reported. These who witnessed didn’t see any groping, but they did see Gibson slammed against the floor.

I wasn’t there, so I don’t know for certain who is telling the truth. But I know that I find a random person in a bar to be a far more credible source of truth today than a sworn officer of the law.

And I do know that these officers who stormed into a gay bar with a show of force and left people hurt and afraid will collectively spend less time on “suspension” than Chad Gibson spent in the hospital.

Ft. Worth Police: We Did No Wrong in Rainbow Lounge Raid

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of other writers at Box Turtle Bulletin

Timothy Kincaid

November 4th, 2009

I have become convinced that the sole function of police internal investigations is to provide legal defense against civil suit for excessive force or civil rights violations. I’ve ceased to be outraged and am now often amused by review boards that find the most obvious of bullies and abusers to be “within procedure” and vindicated.

So it is not surprising that the Ft. Worth Police have conducted an internal review into the raid on the Rainbow Lounge and found no wrongdoing at all. (NBC)

Fort Worth police planned to announce on Thursday that an internal investigation has cleared officers of excessive force in the controversial raid of a gay bar this summer, and no officers will be fired, said two city leaders briefed on the matter.

The long-awaited 1,000-page report is expected to fault officers for not writing a timely report on the June 28 raid of the Rainbow Lounge, but conclude officers did not use excessive force or violate other operational policies.

Nope. No excessive force.

Because that guy with bleeding on the brain who everyone present testified was slammed into a wall and floor, oh he just pirouetted and fell and hit his little fairy princess head outside in the parking lot, ya know.

I know that police think that they win when they are true blue and defend the bullies and abusers in their midst. They think that they are protecting “their own” from the perps and the faggots and the scum.

But this decision by the Ft. Worth police only serves to further bolster the mistrust and hostility with which minority communities view those who they increasingly see as the oppressor rather than the champion of justice and civility. And the respect and cooperation that police rely on as a staple in their arsenal in the fight on crime is being replaced by recalcitrance and sympathy for those who are under investigation.

Last night while driving home I heard an interview with a police officer in Richmond, CA about the gang rape of a young girl on a school campus. He just couldn’t comprehend why none of the dozens of people who knew it was going on pulled out their cell phone and called the police. The police could have stopped it sooner; they could have apprehended more perpetrators.

I find it much less difficult to understand why no one in this mostly black and Hispanic community wanted to come to the attention of police. Who would be so foolish?

Obama Signs Hate Crimes Act Into Law

Jim Burroway

October 28th, 2009

obamalgbtscorecard1President Barack Obama today signed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act into law. This act, which adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the previously existing categories of race, religion and ethnicity for protection against violent bias crimes, is the culmination of  a decade of persistence by Dennis and Judy Shepard and LGBT advocacy groups.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation released the following statement:

When Dennis and I started calling 10 years ago for federal action to  prevent and properly prosecute hate crimes against gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans, we never imagined it would take this long,” said Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother and the president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board of Directors.

“The legislation went through so many versions and so many votes that we had to constantly keep our hopes in check to keep from getting discouraged,” she continued. “But with President Obama’s support and the continually growing bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate lining up behind the bill this year, it became clear that 2009 was the year it would finally happen.”

Anti-Gay Activists React To Hate Crimes Bill Passage

Jim Burroway

October 23rd, 2009

And their reactions are true to form — full of all the same bald-faced lies we’ve heard before. Fortunately, this should be their second-to-last gasp. The last one will come when President Barack Obama signs the legislation into law. First up, Tony Perkins, of the Family “Research” Council:

Tony Perkins“In a slap to the face of our servicemen and women, they attached ‘hate crimes’ legislation to the final defense bill, forcing Congress to choose between expanding hate crimes or making our military go without. This hate crimes provision is part of a radical social agenda that could ultimately silence Christians and use the force of government to marginalize anyone whose faith is at odds with homosexuality. … We call on President Obama to veto this legislation which violates the principle of equal justice under the law and also infringes on the free speech rights of the American people.”

The Family “Research” Council really needs to bone up on their research skills, because right there in the text of the bill (Section 4311)  are these clauses:

3) FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this division shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.

(4) FIRST AMENDMENT- Nothing in this division, or an amendment made by this division, shall be construed to diminish any rights under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

(5) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS- Nothing in this division shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.

So unless the “planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence” is an essential element of Christian speech, people of faith have nothing to worry about.

Next up, we have Traditional Values Coalition Executive Director Andrea Lafferty. She also repeats the false claim that “Christians and other people of faith will now become targets for persecution and prosecution,” but adds this bit of creativity:

Andrea LaffertyHate crime legislation is based on the phony premise that there’s an epidemic of hate in America against LGBT (gays, bisexuals, lesbians and transgendered) persons. This is false. FBI hate crime statistics prove that most so-called hate crimes amount to little more than name-calling or pushing or shoving.

First of all, the FBI doesn’t collect statistics for “name-calling, pushing or shoving.” They only collect statistics on violence and credible threats of violence.  But that’s not the only whopper she told. Of all the hate crime categories that the FBI tracks, hate crimes based on sexual orientation are much more likely to be violent personal crimes than any other category.

  Total Hate Crime Offenses, 2007 Violent Crimes, percentage of total
Race 4,724 1,471 31%
Religion 1,477 126 9%
Sexual Orientation 1,460 695 48%
Ethnicity 1,256 497 40%
Disability 82 21 26%
TOTAL 9,006 2,810 31%
Violent crimes include:
Murder and non-negligent manslaughter,
forcible rape, aggravated assault
and simple assault.

There are more. Bob Unruh at WorldNetDaily calls the bill “the Pedophile Protection Act,” an obvious play on the “thirty sexual orientation” lie, which we dissected last May. All in all, there’s at least one thing you can say about these anti-gay activists: they may not be truthful, but they are consistent.

Senate Passes Hate Crimes Act; Next Stop: Obama’s Desk

Jim Burroway

October 22nd, 2009

The Senate passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act today on a 68-29 vote. The act will now go to President Barack Obama, who has promised to sign the bill into law.

The bill extends federal protections to people who suffer violent crimes because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, protections which are already afforded to people who are victims of violent crimes because of their race, religion, or national origin.

Passage of the hate crimes measure came on a bipartisan vote, with ten Republicans joining 56 Democrats and two independents to pass the bill. One Democrat, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) voted against the measure, which was attached to a defense policy bill. Sen. Feingold said he supported the hate crimes provision but opposes the open-ended military commitment in Afghanistan.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation has released this statement by Judy Shepard:

Dennis and I are extremely proud of the Senate for once again passing this historic measure of protection for victims of these brutal crimes,” said Judy Shepard, president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board. “Knowing that the president will sign it, unlike his predecessor, has made all the hard work this year to pass it worthwhile. Hate crimes continue to affect far too many Americans who are simply trying to live their lives honestly, and they need to know that their government will protect them from violence, and provide appropriate justice for victims and their families.”

By voting overwhelmingly to extend to these often-targeted Americans our nation’s decades-old bias crime legislation, senators sent the message that hate crimes will not go unpunished, and local governments and law enforcement agencies will not run out of financial resources to provide justice to these victims and their loved ones.

…The Matthew Shepard Foundation applauds Congress and President Obama for their steady and successful efforts throughout 2009 to bring the legislation to this point. We eagerly anticipate its final enactment and wish to thank the countless organizations and individuals who have worked tirelessly for its passage.

The full text of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, as passed by both Houses of Congress is below.

Click here to read the full text of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

John Boehner’s Immutable Characteristic

Jim Burroway

October 14th, 2009

090225_Pol_BoehnerTNHouse Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) doesn’t think sexual orientation should be included in the hate Crimes law because, he says, homosexuality is not an immutable characteristic. CBS News decided to follow up on that:

CBSNews.com contacted Boehner’s office to find out if the minority leader opposes all hate crimes legislation. The law as it now stands offers protections based on race, color, religion and national origin.

In an email, Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said Boehner “supports existing federal protections (based on race, religion, gender, etc) based on immutable characteristics.”

Really? Religious identity is an immutable characteristic? Is Boehner saying that free will isn’t involved? What have all those missionaries been wasting their time for?

Queens Man Brutally Beaten in Anti-Gay Attack

Jim Burroway

October 13th, 2009

Jack PriceVideo was released yesterday showing a gay Queens man being brutally beaten by two men last week. Jack Price, 49, was harassed and assaulted early Friday morning as he was leaving a deli. The attack was was captured on video, as Price was subjected to anti-gay epithets and beaten to the ground. He was left with a broken jaw, fractured ribs and a lacerated spleen. He is in a medically-induced coma on a respirator.

The two attackers have been arrested. They are Daniel Aleman, 26, and Daniel Rodriguez, 21. Aleman, who was arrested over the weekend, has been charged with assault and aggravated assault as a hate crime. Rodriguez, who was arrested today in Norfolk, VA, has charges pending his extradition to New York.

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