Friday, March 23, 2007

Kenley Supportive Of Porter's Hate Crimes Bill

The AP's Deanna Martin has a story on Rep. Greg Porter's intention to reintroduce his hate crimes legislation next year. Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) spoke favorably of the legislation. Unlike the religious right folks who've been fighting the legislation, Sen. Kenley actually took the time to read the bill. Quoting Kenley, Martin writes, "Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said Porter's proposal is better than laws in other states because it does not create a separate offense for hate crimes it just adds them as an aggravating factor." "I think this is probably a better way to go about it," he said.

Martin got the obligatory gay-bashing response from the AFA's Micah Clark. Martin writes, "Micah Clark, director of the American Family Association of Indiana, said all crimes should be prosecuted, regardless of whether the victim was chosen for a specific reason." "Clark also said sexual orientation and gender identity are different from some other categories included in Porter's bill because they involve a choice." "I don't think cross-dressers should be mistreated, but I don't think they should get special legal treatment because of the choices they're making," he said. "I've never met a former African-American, but I have met several former homosexuals."

The fundies just refuse to acknowledge a person's sexual orientation or gender identity is an innate characteristic by insisting it's a choice. But they still insist upon what they like to refer to as "special rights" for people based on their religion, which actually is a choice. Their actions create real harm to people like Vivian Benge. Martin shares her story with us:

Vivian Benge remembers walking in downtown Indianapolis a few years ago and having two men approach, hurling insults and threats at her for being transgender. Benge ducked into a mall to escape.

"I didn't even realize how they knew I was trans, but some other people had outed me to them," said Benge, who was born a male and has undergone surgery to become a woman. "They decided it was OK to hate this person and make threatening comments" . . .

Benge said sexual orientation and gender identity are not choices.

"I always knew that I was different," she said. "By the time I was 6, I was being chided for not being like the other boys."

"The hate crimes bill would have been a way for the state to send a message that this kind of behavior is no longer acceptable," she said.
Martin reminds us of the sad statistic: Indiana is one of only five states in the country without a hate crimes law. Porter tells Martin he hopes to revise the legislation next year. HB 1459 passed out of the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee by a 9-1 vote, but it died on second reading after Democrats decided not to call out it down because of a controversial anti-abortion amendment Rep. Jackie Walorski sought to attach to the bill.


Anonymous said...

So many things about this post hurt.

Poor Viv's story.

Greg Porter's tireless efforts in the face of stupidity.

My heart aches. Thank God for Greg, continuing to plow away, behind the scenes, with the most unlikely of new allies.

He attended Earlham. A Quaker institution. I think the solid Quaker ethics played a huge part in Greg's development.

We could all learn a lot from the Quakers. Deacons of peace and love for fellow man. (And woman)

Anonymous said...

I wonder how Micah Clark would feel if at some point in the future the religious far right would become the victims of attacks and hate crimes (it happens in other countries!). I bet he would be all over hate crimes legislation then.

Anonymous said...

Do hate crimes laws cover "choices"? Why yes, they do. RELIGION -- unless you are genetically born an evangelical.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing to me that anyone even listens to Micah Clark after the way he treated his first wife. Yes, the defender of family values is divorced. He forceably removed his then wife at gunpoint from her workplace. She had to take out a restraining order because of his continual threats and harrassment. She feared for her life. His own father threatened to kill her. Funny how he is now married to a marriage counsellor. Would that be the same counsellor he recommended for reconciliation with his first wife. What a fraud!!!