Ask and ye shall receive

Per a suggestion from beloved commenter Charo, I am going to touch on President Obama's signing of the "Matthew Shepard" act, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of groups covered by federal hate crime laws. I haven't spoken much about it because I don't have much to add to what Andrew Sullivan has already said about the topic.

First of all, as I've discussed before, I have trouble with conflating Matthew Shepard with anti-gay violence as a whole. His case, while tragic, is probably more complicated that the LGBTQ community would like to concede, and making him the Symbolic Martyr for our community means we have to preserve him as an unalloyed victim.

I find myself leaning more toward supporting hate crimes legislation. If a group of people as such is a more frequent target of violence, then I think it isn't a great stretch to provide additional protections for that group. Further, if the crime occurred in an area where state or local governments might be unsympathetic to a gay or lesbian victim (and let's not pretend that this is not a distinct possibility), giving recourse to the federal justice system is a significant improvement.

On the other hand, preexisting statutes already made the crime per se illegal, so to a certain extent this is superfluous. Further, free speech advocates can legitimately decry a potential chilling effect, even if the advocates themselves are [unpleasant word for lower alimentary orifice, plural]. However, unless I am greatly mistaken (and I will sincerely re-evaluate this position if someone has information to the contrary), there has been little impact on freedom of speech thus far from earlier hate crimes law, so I am skeptical that horrible people will be prevented from saying their horrible things.

Finally (and this is a blatant retread of what Sully already said), if you are going to create hate crimes protections, then you need to include gays and lesbians. As he rightly points out, gays are among the most frequent targets of violence, so if you're going to extend protections to particular groups, it is only just that we be included.


  1. I totally agree that if you're going to have hate crimes legislation, then LGBT should have in.

    But motivations are so difficult to understand and pin down. Many might be non-conscious. And how, exactly, are we supposed to determine motive? Much less prove it. There's an epistemological problem, no? One can conceivably perform looks like a hate crime for reasons other than hate of a group at large. And I really don't see how torturing someone because he's gay deserves greater punishment than torturing someone because he looked at you funny. Both are horrible, both terrify the community, etc. etc.

    The most convincing point on the other side that you make is that local jurisdiction may not take such crimes seriously enough.

  2. That last point is the reason I find most compelling. The rest of it is distressingly vague, and thus difficult to support.

  3. Count me in on Elizabeth's concerns. Wouldn't it be simpler to say that if local jurisdiction is problematic, petition for a change of venue? I really, really don't like putting thought-crimes on the book when the act itself is a felony.

  4. "Wouldn't it be simpler to say that if local jurisdiction is problematic, petition for a change of venue?"

    This form of redress assumes a sympathetic judge.

  5. On a sadder note:

    The Justice Department and Massachusetts -- the first state to allow gay marriage -- are at odds over a 1996 federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Massachusetts says that law is discriminatory and deprives gay couples in the state of certain federal spousal benefits. The Obama administration agrees the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory and wants it repealed, but says it has an obligation to defend laws enacted by Congress while they are on the books. While they are n the books is the real crux of the problem. My partner, (cannot call him spouse yet) shall derive zero benefits from each others federal retirements nor Social Security although we worked out entire careers for the government...thank you very much you bunch of Republican abhorrent, ignorant pond-scum-sucking, jerk wad, asinine, pus-soaked, aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh f73k y5u.

  6. UJ, it isn't the Republicans who are keeping the statues on the books. You may not have heard yet, but Democrats have been the majority party for almost 3 years, and for the last session, Democrats have enough votes to pass any bill they wish. The current President, a tireless advocate for gay rights as long as it cost him nothing politically, has decided you aren't worth his trouble to actually, you know, ask Congress to repeal these laws. So don't blame Republicans for the failures of the Democrats to live by what they promise.

  7. JG You continue to be the ass wipe of humanity. It was the R's that enacted the legislation. (Not the D's) It will be overturned by the Obama boys contrary to your southern bigoted ways. Go eat garbage. To Dan, Please note the humane language used here.

  8. Bipartisan votes established DOMA (85-14 in the Senate, 342-67 in the House, so substantial numbers of Democrats voted for DOMA) in a Republican majority Congress, and it was signed into law by a Democratic President. The current Democratic Congress and President have taken no action to change the law. None. Quite the contrary, the Democratic Administration of the Smartest President Evah is actively arguing for the law before the courts, as you so helpfully point out. All it takes is a vote by the Democrats and the law is history. But the Democrats aren't going to do that, are they? The Democrats do appreciate your votes, however. Keep sending your checks to the Democratic party. Maybe one day... nah.

    The Progressive way is to attack the messenger, not the message, and UJ has that down cold. Don't let facts get in the way of your bile, UJ. And remember to keep writing those checks and voting for Democrats, who, like Bullwinkle, always promise "this time, for sure!"

  9. so gadfly, you support repealing DOMA? If you don't then why in the world would you wail against Democrats not repealing it? For example, I support increasing troop strenght in Afghanistan, if Obama works with Republicans to get this done I am all for it, even if all the Democrats are opposed. The most important thing is the issue and I will work with anyone, Democrat, Indpendent, or Republican to see it happens.
    Amazing how you can multiple post without taking a stand on the issue yourself. You really sound like a child with your nyah, nyah, nyah taunts.
    Take a stand before you speak.

    And finally, like it is a shock that Democrats as well as Republicans will play upon peoples prejudices to get elected. Gay rights is not a Democratic issue, nor is it Republican, it is a human rights issue. If you are against gay rights then boy up (I honestly don't view you as having the qualities of a real man), if you are for them, then write your Congressman and agitate, agitate, agitate. But honestly, don't be such a little shit. And learn something about our system of Government and stop being such a freaking moron. Obama doesn't govern by fiat, or magic wand. And many Democratic congressmen don't care about gay rights. Not all Dems are the same, nor are all Republicans (although lately they have been trying to ensure that is the case, much to the detriment of America)

    Of course I support repealing DOMA, but if a way of getting around it is to pick off so many states that the anti-gay marriage crowd is confined to the Bible belt, so be it.


  10. One last thing, since I do love exterminating that gad fly, maybe now he will finally stfu about how Democrats have a filibuster proof majority. Two words: Joe Lieberman, who, by the way, isn't a Democrat but an independent. If the assfly would learn something he would understand it requires 60 votes to guarantee cloture, so even his taunting is completely without justification.

    Honestly, how many times do I have to teach that schmuck such basic governmental procedures?
    Sad, sad, sad.


  11. Charo, no, I don't support DOMA. I support getting secular government completely out of the marriage biz. Government should only recognize civil unions, same sex or mixed sex. Let religions run the marriage game.

    Why do I decry the fecklessness of the Lying Dems and President Dither? Because I don't like people who lie every time their lips move. It leads to double standards. Clearly, if the Democrats gave a damn, they would repeal the DOMA. You and I know this isn't going to happen.

    Finally, Lieberman meets and votes with the Democrat caucus, and is officially listed as an "Independent Democrat"; if you look at his voting record, he generally supports gay rights. You only need his vote to invoke cloture, not to pass bills. Somehow, I doubt the Rs would stand as a bloc to filibuster repeal of DOMA. But the Ds should at least find out, eh?

    Don't forget to send your checks and votes to the Democrats! Next time, for sure! *snicker*

  12. Again,what is your deal? Why the hell do you think all Democrats are alike? Do you really think Obama and the House leadership has anywhere near the votes to repeal DOMA? Believe it or not, there are Southern (and Northern) Democrats who don't believe in Gay marriage, just as there are Northern Republicans who do (OK, maybe one). Acknowledging reality is not fecklessness. Believe it or not, up to about the last 5 or 6 years ago I supported DOMA (I am RC). I thought Civil Unions were good enough. I was just as much a Democrat then as now, I thought gays wanted equal societal status through Government fiat, against the wishes of the majority. I had no problem with gays agitating for marriage, but it was nothing close to a priority for me.
    Many, many Democrats still feel the way I felt. They have not lied, and are not lying now. Look, gays have every right to agitate and feel disappointed, etc. But Obama just did pass a major hate crimes bill, the sad truth is for far too long in our society laws have waited for society and not for justice.

    Of course Republicans would filibuster the repeal of DOMA, have you just got done smoking crack? What planet are you on?

    As to sending money to any Republican, a person would have to be insane to do so. Bush represented Big Government Conservatism at its worst. "snicker, gaffaw, roll on the floor laughing"

    Honest to God, when you write childing shit like that "snicker" There is nothing wrong with assholes, everyone got one, but man, you don't have to be one so relentlessly. "snicker"
    By the way, who the fuck writes "snicker"? You are so clueless.


  13. *polite cough*

    I believe, perhaps, that we should move on, gentlemen.