The current issue of The Advocate features a joint column by HRC head Joe Solmonese and activist Judy Shepard calling for immediate action on a national hate crimes law, as this may be the best year to get such a bill passed.
Fear of violence remains a horrible reality for millions of GLBT Americans—even in places that many consider “tolerant” or “progressive.” Every act of violence is tragic and harmful in its consequences, but not all crime is based on hate. A bias-motivated crime affects not only the victim and his or her family but an entire community or category of people and their families.
The current federal hate-crimes law, enacted nearly 40 years ago, covers only bias attacks based on race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion. In the case of a hate crime based on sexual orientation or gender identity, our government’s hands are tied: It doesn’t have the authority to go after perpetrators of anti-LGBT violent crime. It’s time to update the law to protect everyone.