Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hates Crimes Law Turns Two;
HRC & Gay Inc Silent on Anniversary

 (From the left: David M. Smith, Cathy Nelson, Joe Solmonese and Elizabeth Birch, on October 28, 2009. Credit: Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.)

For a solid twenty years, the Human Rights Campaign raised and spent millions of dollars and expended countless words to pass a federal hate crimes law. Check out their timeline, which stops in October 2009, here.

Practically every act of violence or assault against a gay person during those years was used by HRC and lots of Gay Inc groups, pushing Congress to enact legislation against hate crimes against LGBT people and other minorities.

When the murder of Matthew Shepard shocked the nation in 1998, the perfect young and innocent martyr was created and HRC used his tragic death, and his mother Judy, to raise millions and awareness asking Members of Congress to pass the hate crimes law.

The political and social stars finally aligned for Congressional approval of the legislation, which was titled and sold as a prevention tool at the local and national level, and on October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the legislation into law. HRC led the LGBT community in heralding these developments as monumental achievements of great benefit to us.

The two-year anniversary of that signing came and went a little more than two weeks ago, and as far as I can tell, HRC and Gay Inc remained silent about the occasion. HRC's well-oiled and publicity machine didn't even bother to issue a release. It was probably naive of me to expect professional LGBT advocacy organizations to educate the community and the media about the law's impact two years hence.

Has the federal hate crimes law made a dent in preventing gay bashings? In what specific ways, if any, has it improved the safety and security of gays? Where are the statistics and analyses illustrating the impact two years after enactment?

Follow up regarding the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hates Crimes Prevention Act is needed from HRC and Gay Inc, and my questions should be addressed by the groups who invested so much in the act.

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