Federal Hate Crimes Bill Passes the House

An expanded Federal Hate Crimes Bill, which would include GLBTQI people, passed the House April 29, 2009. Should the bill pass the Senate as well, Federal Hate Crimes will officially include the queer community and protect them in states where no such hate crimes law exist.

And while a Hate Crimes Bill will not change the social and political landscape that continues to justify murders like those listed in the video below, it is a start in ensuring that these crimes are investigated, made public, and homophobic and transphobic murderers are exposed and stopped.

Hopefully the coverage of these crimes and their prosecution will raise awareness about the violence against the queer community and open room for discussion about diversity and hate free societies, even as we must continue to work for these issues beyond an incarceration-reaction model.

The bill was threatened by veto from the Bush administration 2 years ago in a backward attempt to continue to criminalize homosexuality as a “moral issue.” No morals I know of justify the killing of innocent people. And yet, even now, conservatives are claiming the bill is intended to “muzzle them” and their “free speech” rather than to save lives.

They are also claiming that there is no correlation between their anti-gay organizing and hate crimes, or that if there is, it is “on both sides.”  Statistics about the rise in anti-gay hate crimes show that there is a clear connection between organizing hotspots and homophobic violence.

The connection between DOMA organizing and a shooting that targeted a church during a children’s program is also well documented:

And again, a Christian, such as myself, reminds that there is no moral high ground in violence

This incident also reminds us that hate crimes and the oppression of marginalized groups does not end with the disempowerment or violence against oppressed people but extends to those in the center. Among those who have suffered because of hatred against the GLBTQ community and legislation against them are the children committing suicide b/c they were called gay, so-called metrosexual and effiminate heterosexual men and boys, and women who do not meet certain gender norms or who refuse male sexual advances to dance with or hang out with their female friends, and the liberal church goers and their children, the outspoken allies and advocates, the friends or brothers or sisters walking home at night hand in hand, or the group walking by a gay or lesbian night club at “the wrong time,” or any number of other people who get caught up in the push against the queer community. In other words, all of us suffer when any group of people is targeted and rendered less human than the rest.


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