Sunday, November 1, 2009

Obama signed the Hate Crime Bill into LAW


The Matthew Shepard & James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act has now been signed into law.

The FBI reported 7,600 hate crimes in the US in the past year. Over the past 10 years, 12,000 hate crimes were committed based on sexual orientation. These are only the reported crimes. The new law will provide inclusion for gender, disability and sexual orientation bias in hate crime legislation. "Because no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hand of the person they love." -Obama

"At root this isn't about our laws, this is about who we are as people. Whether we value one another. Whether we embrace our differences rather than using them as animus."

The government can change a law, but it's the people that have to change the climate. Sure, I'm thankful that this gives legislation tools for punishment after the fact, but it makes me sad that we even have to have such a law. And what about prevention? It is going to take the charge of people - people who recognize similarities that unite us, and celebrate the differences that make us unique - to change our society into one in which we don't even need such legislation. You cannot only talk with or to like-minded people. We haveto step beyond the comfort of agreement and speak to those who need a reminder of humanity and that we should value each person equally.

In case you do not know who Matthew Shepard is, let me share with you. Matthew Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. He was attacked by two men on the night of October 6–7, 1998 - robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence in a remote, rural area, and left to die. He was found 18 hours later, mistaken for a scarecrow and died on October 12 from severe head injuries. During the trial, witnesses stated that Shepard was targeted because he was gay.


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