Thursday, May 07, 2009

Matthew Shepherd - Time For Justice

For anyone who is reading this, take a moment to call your Senator and ask them to support the Matthew Shepherd Act, which would provide hate crime legislation based on sexual orientation. You can read about Matthew Shepherd here.

Republicans and right wing conservatives, such as FOF's James Dobson, are vehemently speaking out against passage. In a message posted to his followers, he states "As I'm recording this video greeting, there's a so-called hate crimes bill that's working its way through the congress that contains no adequate safeguards to protect the preaching of God's word. Because the liberals in Congress would not define sexual orientation, we have to assume that protection under the law will be extended to the 30 sexual disorders identified as such by the American Psychiatric Association. Let me identify some of them: bisexuality, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, sexual masochism, voyeurism, and bestiality. Those are just a few. And I have to ask, have we gone completely mad?"

Last week, North Carolina Representative Virginia Foxx stated that Matt's death was a "hoax".

On the website, they continue to propagate the "protection for pedophiles" angle and states that the Matthew Shepherd Act "specifically denies such protections to other targeted classes of citizens such as pastors, Christians, missionaries, veterans and the elderly".

Under Federal Law, current statutes permit prosecution for hate crimes based on a person's race, color, religion, or national origin when participating in a federally protected act. Current law protects pastors, Christians and missionaries.

The Elder Abuse Victims Act is making it's way through Congress for the third year in a row. The House has passed it twice. I've heard nothing about this from either side, and isn't a horrific shame that Congress has been unable to pass legislation that would criminalize elder abuse. At least California has taken care of that, along with hate crimes based on sexual orientation.

What I would like to emphasize at this point is that Wyoming has NO hate crimes legislation - not even for crimes based on race. It's for this reason that we need to pass Federal Laws to protect victims of hate based crimes.

I propose this scenario: if Matthew Shepherd had been Jewish and the two men that tortured and killed him had been White Supremacists, would we even be having this discussion 11 years after his death? Matthew was killed because of who he was. I'm sorry that there are those who think his "choice" of being gay is against God's teaching, but then again those same people made a choice to follow those teachings. Their "choice" is protected under US Law.

Call your Senator. If you need their phone number, you can look it up here. And while you're at it, tell them that it's past time for them to pass the Elder Abuse and Neglect Act.

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