Sessions Poisons Matthew Shepard Act Legislation (Pt. 1)
The things that divide us
Lots of things divide us in society. Many of them are manufactured or artificial. Money is one of these. While it is definitely true that some people have more money than others, it doesn’t mean that people in upper income brackets have a greater “human currency” than those who depend upon government assistance or those who may look to unsecured loans or pay day loans for help when the budget can stretch no more. People are people; their actions define them, not the contents of their bank accounts.
We don’t have room for all of the ill will
In order for people to get along, barriers need to be minimized, rather than encouraged. Hate crimes are a special kind of barrier that a healthy society simply has no room for. There are many different kinds of hate crimes, most of which are dealt with harshly by America’s laws. However, when it comes to the Matthew Shepard Act, it appears there are still some lawmakers in this country who want to divide and tread upon the backs of the defeated.
That would be you, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama[ad_block type=”horizontal” float=”left”]
To fully understand what Sessions has done, let’s first take a look at what the Matthew Shepard Act (aka the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, or LLEHCPA) does. According to Wikipedia,
This bill is named in honor of Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was brutally murdered ten years ago in Laramie, Wyoming, in a case that shocked the nation. Matthew Shepard was murdered by two men, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, who set out on the night of October 6, 1998, to rob a gay man. After going to a gay bar and pretending to befriend him, the killers offered their young victim a ride home, but instead drove him away from the bar, repeatedly pistol-whipped him in his head and face, and then tied him to a fence and left him to die. The passerby who found Shepard the next morning, tied to the fence and struggling to survive, initially thought that Matthew was a scarecrow. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died on October 12 from massive head injuries. At the defendants’ murder trial, Henderson and McKinney initially tried to use a “gay panic” defense, claiming that they killed Shepard in an insane rage after he approached them sexually. At another point, they claimed that they intended only to rob Shepard, but not to kill him. Both men were sentenced to serve two consecutive life terms in prison.
Sexual orientation-based crime is a real problem
What Matthew Shepard suffered has been suffered by many Americans, some to a lesser extent and others to the same point of death. That’s why – at least initially – Congress was behind legislation that would protect people from such heinous treatment. The following is direct from the Congressional testimony:
Currently the main Federal hate crimes law, 18 U.S.C. § 245, does not cover hate crimes committed because of the victim’s sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Yet we know that violent acts are committed based on these biases every day. For example, according to 2007 statistics published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, 16.6 percent of hate crimes were motivated by sexual-orientation bias (exceeded only by racial bias, 50.8 percent, and religious bias, 18.4 percent). S. 909 would allow the Federal government to help protect all Americans from such violence.
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