Insight News

Wednesday
Apr 16th

Hate crime legislation should include gays

E-mail Print PDF

Hate crime legislation should include gays

Hate crimes are legally defined as crimes, usually violent, that target a victim because of his or membership in a certain group, usually defined by race, religion or ethnicity.

Hate crimes are legally defined as crimes, usually violent, that target a victim because of his or membership in a certain group, usually defined by race, religion or ethnicity.

According to the FBI, more than fifteen percent of hate crimes reported to police in 2004 (the last year for which data is available) were committed against homosexuals. Over sixty percent of these attacks were against gay men and fourteen percent against lesbians. These numbers are significant and clearly illustrate that a homosexual's very being is threatened simply because of their lifestyle. Yet, there are many, including large sections of the religious community, who don't think the pending hate crime bill should be expanded to protect gays.

Currently federal law increases the sentences -- extending to life in prison -- for violent crimes motivated for no other reason than that the attacker didn't like the victim's racial, religious or ethnic group.

The new hate crime bill, which just passed the House and is pending in the Senate, would extend the law to protect gay and transgender victims and expand the circumstances under which local authorities could ask for assistance from federal agencies. The law's critics, many of whom are conservative religious leaders, say that this expansion will limit their ability to speak out against homosexuality from the pulpit, criminalizing their sermons. This fear, however, is unfounded. The law criminalizes violent acts against gays. It does not limit free speech. There are ministers who support the bill, recognizing the basic human right to live a life free of persecution. In fact, many of these ministers, along with prominent civil rights leaders, have come forward in support of the extended law.

This debate is not about sexual orientation. It's about justice. And making sure all groups receive it. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights calls the expanded hate crime law "one of the most important civil rights issues currently facing the country."

For those who protest homosexuality on the basis of religious beliefs, it is important to remember that the bible also teaches us to lift up and protect our fellow man. The Book also teaches us that all man are worthy of love and protection. It is time we move beyond our personal feelings on this issue and acknowledge and accept that no American should live in fear.

Judge Greg Mathis is national vice president of Rainbow PUSH and a national board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.



 

Recent Comments

Powered by Disqus



Facebook Twitter RSS Image Map

Latest show

  • April 15, 2014
    Sonny Singh, trumpet player for Red Baraat. Sheila Raye Charles and Reverend Colin Akehurst with MetroHope Recovery Ministries.

Business & Community Service Network