Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Hate Crime Legislation Passes the House

Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow the Justice Department to prosecute crimes committed against LGBT people that result in death or serious injury. What I love about this legislation is that it will give the US Justice Department the authority to take the lead in a case where they feel that local authorities are unwilling or unable to prosecute. Should the bill pass the House and be signed into law by President Obama it will create grants to train law enforcement officials, combat hate crimes committed by juveniles and investigate bias-motivated violence.

I'm very proud of the fact that the representative that introduced this legislation was an African-American. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) seen in the above right picture, introduced the hate crimes bill earlier this month. It's great to see some of our black leadership stepping up and doing positive things for the LGBT community

But the introduction of legislation was not welcomed with open arms. It's interesting to learn some of the responses that came as the bill was debated. Some references to LGBT murders (like Angie Zapata and Matthew Shepard) were mentioned as a reason why legislation like this is needed. And then hatred and ignorance reared it's ugly head.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) in her arguments against made this statement about Matthew Shepard. "We know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. This — the bill was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but it's really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills." Did that really happen? Did she call the murder of Matthew Shephard "a hoax?"
We can only wait to see what happens. I'm proud to say that I live in a city that has a very progressive police force. I know several lesbian officers and some gays officers. And we have a person that serves in the capacity of liason to the LGBT community. But unfortunately, most rural areas and some major cities can not say the same. So I'm hoping we see this law come into effect.

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