'Hate crimes are a scourge across our nation,' said HRC President Joe Solmonese.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign expressed concern over recent violent crimes against gay and transgender victims in New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia, New York and California. These crimes underscore the need for laws that protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans from bias-motivated crimes.
"Hate crimes are a scourge across our nation," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "Violence in any form is appalling, but the damage done when a hate crime is committed goes far beyond the individual. The entire community is left feeling open to attack and at risk. We should honor the lives of all hate crimes victims by passing strong and meaningful laws that ensure hate violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans will be investigated and prosecuted."
Rashawn Brazell, an African-American gay man in Brooklyn, N.Y., went missing Feb. 14. Over the next two weeks, investigators found Brazell's severed limbs, torso and pelvis. While the case is ongoing and the motive of the killer is unknown, the youth GLBT community in Brooklyn is concerned for their safety following this grisly crime. New York's hate crimes law covers bias crimes where sexual orientation was a factor, but not gender identity.
James Maestas and Joshua Stockham were assaulted in Santa Fe, N.M., on Feb. 27, by six men who began yelling anti-gay comments after seeing Maestas and Stockham kiss. The group physically assaulted the two men, knocking Maestas unconscious and breaking his nose. New Mexico's hate crimes law covers bias crimes based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Prosecutors are seeking hate crimes penalties against the men.
On March 1, Thomas Stockwell, a 21-year-old student, was assaulted, suffering broken bones, by a dozen men who had been following him and making anti-gay comments. North Carolina has a hate crimes law, but it does not include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected categories.
In early March, Eddie Chung Chou Lee was found stabbed to death in Daly City, Calif. Lee, who was a biological male, was wearing woman's clothing and police are investigating the murder as a hate crime. California's hate crimes law includes both gender identity and sexual orientation as protected categories.
On March 5, Marvin Jackson, an African-American 18-year-old, was assaulted at a party by guests who targeted him because he is gay. Although the police in Suffolk, Va., have called the crime a hate crime, Virginia's hate crimes law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected categories, meaning the perpetrators in the case will not be charged with a hate crime.
"There's an insufficient and narrow patchwork of laws now that leave millions of GLBT Americans unprotected," added Solmonese. "It's past time for a meaningful and comprehensive hate crimes law at the federal level."
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