Republicans refuse to take action against violence directed at gay men, lesbians
and transgender people. Again.
Phil Weinstein, May 2002.
An effort to address violence directed at gay men and lesbians -- or at people who are perceived to be gay -- was denied for the sixth year in a row by Republican Colorado legislators -- this time by a party-line vote in the House State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee. (See votes in the table to the right.)
Colorado Senate Bill SB02-009 would have added sexual orientation, gender identity, age and disability to the criteria by which the motivation of hate could be legally recognized as a component of crimes against people. It would have added these criteria to Colorado's existing "ethnic intimidation" law which currently addresses crimes involving bias based on race, color, ancestry, religion, and national origin.
The bill was neutral towards all of these added identities. That is, the ability of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges to consider motivation in a crime motivated by a gay victim's sexual orientation would apply equally to a crime motivated by a straight victim's sexual orientation. (Straight people have a sexual orientation too.)
The criminal acts relevant to this bill are not crimes in which the victim just happens to be gay (or straight or elderly or disabled) -- but rather crimes that occur specifically because of the victim's perceived identity (or where that perception contributed to the severity of an attack.) These are acts that would not have occurred at all if it weren't for the perpetrator's hate of the particular identity. The impact of these crimes on both the direct victim and a whole community is much more severe than crimes lacking a hate component -- for example, a robbery. But these things cannot be considered by prosecutors and judges unless these particular bias-motivations for crimes are legally recognized.
After a near party-line vote in the Senate on SB02-009, Republican opponents complained that this bill requires the government to read people's minds and penalizes people for "thoughts." [Sens. Jim Dyer, R-Littleton and Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs, reported in the Boulder Daily Camera, April 19, 2002]. But establishing and proving motivation ("motive") is ALWAYS important for the prosecution of a major crime. In the very few occasions where Colorado's existing ethnic intimidation statutes have been applied, the bias-motivation has been quite clear. Interestingly, perpetrators are often quite stupid about freely expressing pride in their hate.
As violent bias-motivated attacks on GLBT people in Colorado continue (for example, the murder of 16-year-old Fred C. Martinez, Jr. less than a year ago, and the near-beating-death of Kyle Skyock), Colorado Republicans continue to contribute to the sense of fear and terror among GLBT people by asserting that the motivation behind these attacks is irrelevant. Equal treatment under the law is entirely the issue. Equal treatment demands that biases demonstrated to motivate violence be recognized by our legal system.
|Senate Votes on SB02-009|
|Colorado Anti-Violence Program releases 2001 Anti-Gay Violence Report -- Sexual orientation and gender identity bias crimes rise in Colorado for the 5th straight year.|
|National Transgender Advocacy Coalition Urges Passage of Hate Crimes Proposal after Colorado Attack|
|Equal Rights Colorado|
|Fred C. Martinez (1985-2001) -- Four Corners Gay and Lesbian Alliance for Diversity (4CGLAD) -- and Boulder Valley Safe Schools Coalition.|
|Other action in this legislative session: House Votes on HB02-1356 ("no same-sex parents on birth certificates")|
|www.PamRhodes-Colorado.com (e-mail)||Contents -- May 11, 2002|