Pass the Matthew Shepard Act

My friend Adele passed this information along to me. Regardless of how you feel theologically about homosexuality, I think compassion is a non-negotiable for a follower of Jesus.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people often fear for their lives and safety. I can personally attest to this: as a straight guy, I have dealt with threats, harrassment and name-calling for much of my life. "Fag," "homo," "queer." I've had plenty of guys want to kick my ass, simply because they assumed I was gay.

I guess homophobes don't like dudes who enjoy the arts. Or dress better than they do.

Did you know that one in six hate crimes are committed because of sexual orientation or gender identity – and that's on the rise? Racism is still a real and rampant problem in America. But homophobia and hatred over gender identity is a rapidly-growing problem.

Two years after George W. Bush's veto threat blocked it, the Matthew Shepard Act is back and has a real shot of becoming the law of the land.

Not to "demonize," but let's be real: right-wing fundamentalist groups are using fear, stereotypes, lies and distortion to defeat this important bill, once again. If we're silent, they could bring lawmakers who are on the fence over to their side. More importantly, if the Body of Christ is silent, then the world hears a very clear message about who Jesus is - and WHO JESUS LOVES (as if that's a limited pool of names).

Please send your message to Congress today. Tell them we need the Matthew Shepard Act to help ensure safety and security for ALL people. Tell them love, goodness, and human compassion demands it.

Click here.

13 comments:

Existential Punk said...

THANKS so much, Peter, for posting about this important issue!

Did you hear about the woman in the Bay Area that was targeted by 4 men because she is a lesbian. They attacked and raped her. Thankfully most of them have been caught.

Also, did you hear about the straight Latino man in nYC walking arm in arm with his brother. They were attacked because the attackers thought they were gay. The one later died from his injuries while in the hospital.

i am sos orry you have been dealt the blows of threats and harassment because others thought you were gay. They must be jealous of your great sense of style and your gorgeous eyelashes! :)

Adele

Peter said...

Ha ha! Thanks Adele ;)

Yes I heard about San Fran, but not the NYC story.

Please don't apologize to ME! I've been guilty of insensitive comments and tastless humor in my adolescent days - what I've experienced is NOTHING compared to these stories, Matt Shephard's legacy, and those of many, many others.

Thanks for bringing the link to my attention!

madcat said...

Yea most probably because you were more good looking than those guys.

Was quite surprised to see the comment by Adele about lesbian being raped in America.

I thought this kind of things only happen in the Middle East.

Anonymous said...

Why do we need a special hate crimes law?? These crimes are already illegal and does it matter what the motivation?? Hate, lust, jealousy, fun, whatever the motivation because the victim is gay doesn't make them any different than someone who's not. They punishment should be the same.

Peter said...

Anonymous, your question presumes equalized social attitudes about the issues. Homophobia is a particular mallady that needs special attention because its roots are uniquely prevalent in society (similar to racism, but different in that few whites are AFRAID of BEING black).

What separates hate crimes from regular crimes, is that "non-hate" crimes (though likely involving some kind of hate) generally have different motivations. Burglary or theft and batter involve TAKING something. Personal gain. Murder is USUALLY done in a state of emotion that assumes some type of pre-existing relationship or interaction. Passion.

With hate crimes [generally] the MAIN impetus for the crime is hatred or fear of a group, personalized into an individual victim.

I'm always amazed that hate crime legislation brings such indignance and disapproval. Even the guys from South Park have mocked it. What, exactly, does a law-abiding citizen have to complain about? Are you worried that someone who kills a fag might be treated more harshly than some guy who kills his wife? I don't tend to worry much about scenarios like that.

Erin said...

Thanks for sharing the link Pete, I just mailed it off to my representative.

Peter said...

Awesome, thanks Erin!

Existential Punk said...

Erin, THANK YOU! i REALLY appreciate it and so does the LGBTQ community.

Peter, your response to Anonymous was spot on, and i THANK YOU! When a specific people group/minority is targeted for being who they are, that is through intimidation, threats, and actual violence, that IS a HATE CRIME!

Madcat, the woman was gang raped by four men. Here's a link:
http://www.existentialpunk.com/existential_punk/2008/12/lesbian-gang-raped-in-san-franciscos-east-bay-and-called-a-hate-crime.html

Existential Punk said...

Anonymous - i used to think and believe like you do about hate crimes but i no longer do. When a particular group is attacked for being who they are, it is hate. Peter is correct above when he says, 'With hate crimes [generally] the MAIN impetus for the crime is hatred or fear of a group, personalized into an individual victim.'

Also, why not give your real name?

Warm Regards,

Adele

Wickle said...

I used to agree with the common biolerplate that the bold Anonymous recited.

No longer. I've seen too many people not care ... as an Evangelical Christian, I'm in the group that often doesn't care if a gay guy gets beat up. Maybe we give lip service, but that's it.

This kind of measure is taking a stand. I'd like to see Christians of all kinds stand up and say, "Violence is wrong."

So, I'm with you.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't trying to be bold by any stretch. I don't care if your gay, black, or white..I may or may not be gay. I guess because I dont see it from an enlightened perspective I have total lack of understanding. What if a non-gay man is murdered by a group of gay men is it still a hate crime? It seems as though hate crimes only run one way. What in the world would be the difference between a guy killing his wife or a "fag" as you put it?

Peter said...

Anonymous, I've already answered your question to the best of my ability. If you are bent on rejecting the value of protecting particularly-singled out or oppressed people groups, then there isn't a magic argument that will convince you. You're entitled to your disagreement.
Cheers

James said...

Wow a magic argument, That sounds exciting! Sign me up for one of those. But only if it is Disney magic, all other forms of magic are not authorized by my denomination.

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