Thursday, May 3, 2007

Safety net for victims of LGBT and gender hate crimes may be vetoed

Today an expansion on the Hate Crime bill (H.R. 1592) is expected to pass in the House today. Currently the Hate Crime Bill already in place protects individuals against crimes founded on race, religion, color, or national original. The expanded version will federally protect folks from threats and attacks based on gender or sexual orientation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly -- mainly because unless one is a heterosexual conservative in this country, protection is not guaranteed – news articles are already circulating stating that the White House plans to veto it.

The reason?

Republicans -- who have been the most outspoken on the bill's passage -- feel it will go against freedom of speech and the freedom to express one's religion.

Ok, so it is not okay to beat the crap out of someone based on their skin color, but it is okay to beat the crap out of someone who breaks traditional gender roles, or represents a sexual orientation other than straight? This is ludicrous.

More, since when did violent attacks count as freedom of speech?

Each year about 15 percent of the hate crimes in this country happen because someone is of the LGBT community. Do the powers-that-be think that this number is just not high enough to constitute as a real threat?

I think that hatred of lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender folks, or anyone who steps outside of their role as a woman or man, stems from a few areas:

1. We live in a capitalist society where people make money off one another. We are meant to be individuals – meaning to pull ourselves up on our own and not ask for handouts – yet, we are also meant to have families. If a couple cannot (or chooses not to) have a child, they are not contributing to the money machine. No kids = no new industry workers = no new money for the country.

2. The U.S. is historically misogynistic. There has been a lot of hatred and discrimination against women. The reasons may be varied, but what I always find interesting is that those who hate women tend to hate gay folks too…is it because those who are not in a heterosexual relationship are acting like women? Hmmm.

For an upcoming article I am working on about pay inequality, based on gender, I came across a report that lists Arkansas as the state with the largest gap between pay grades. Women in Arkansas make less, are less likely to be in positions of power, own their own businesses, or take part in jobs that are traditionally male-oriented.

It appears that their fear of women permeates into other areas as well.

A small blurb in The Week – in a section titled Only In America – points out an Arkansas man who is suing his local library for $20,000 because his two sons, ages 14 and 16, got hold of “a lesbian sex manual: Felice Newman’s 'The Whole Lesbian Sex Book.' ”

The article says the two “were traumatized” by the discovery, and led to “many sleepless nights in [their] house.”

It is homes like this that make it necessary to have a safety net in place for people who may be discriminated against, attacked, killed, banned or, now, sued because of who they are.