Archive for Thursday, October 29, 2009

Obama signs first major federal gay rights law

October 29, 2009


— President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation, a milestone that activists compared to the passage of 1960s civil rights legislation empowering blacks.

The new law adds acts of violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to the list of federal hate crimes. Gay rights activists voiced hope that the Obama administration would advance more issues, including legislation to bar workplace discrimination, allow military service and recognize same-sex marriages.

Congress passed the hate crimes protections as an unlikely amendment to this year’s Defense Authorization Act. In a signing ceremony in the White House East Room, Obama said that the gay rights protections represented a “long-awaited change” that would protect people who are victimized because of “who they love ... or who they are.”

Legislation barring firms from firing employees on the basis of their sexual orientation could win passage in the House of Representatives by year’s end, gay rights advocates said. More than half of U.S. states currently allow employers such freedom.

Obama has promised to push Congress to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibits being openly gay while serving. A Senate panel is expected to hold a hearing on that issue next month, and legislation could be debated next year.

Gay rights activists also hope for repeal next year of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which would give federal legitimacy to gay marriages recorded in states that allow them.

The amendment signed into law Wednesday was named partly for Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming who died after a 1998 beating targeting him because he was gay, and whose parents were instrumental in leading the fight for such legislation. The law also was named for James Byrd Jr., a black Texas man dragged to his death in a racially motivated killing the same year.

The measure also extends protections to those attacked because of their gender or disability.

Federal hate crimes law already covers race, religion and national origin.


igby 8 years, 4 months ago

While he's at it, he should add elected officials to the list. I can see that the future may bring a hate toward politically motivated haters and the haters that hate them and also the haters that did not hate them but could hate them if they did something hateful like pass a hateful bill that hates a group or class of people that are hated because they may be better off than the haters that hate them. Also, any group of people that hate a person or a legal business because they are not politically pleasing to the haters that may do acts of terror against that person or business. Like burning property or vandalism (ELF's), come to mind. Also, Cindy Shenan, and a few people that have the word Rev. in front of their name. Having Rev. in front of their name and engaging in a public form which discusses politics to cause groups of people to hate a person or legal business or group of people could be a hate crime.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 4 months ago

Igby I think that pretty much covers it!

Brent Garner 8 years, 4 months ago

This is the same amendment which democrats refused to modify so that pedophiles could not use it as a defense of their actions. Further, clarification was sought so that religious people who teach that homosexuality is a sin could not be prosecuted under this law. That too the democrats voted down. Combine that with the stated objective of a certain democrat House member that all sexual orientations should be protected: pedophiles, child abusers, those who engage in necrophilia and beastilality, etc., etc., etc. One has to wonder what the real purpose of this law is.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 4 months ago

They managed to get Axelrod's puppet off the golf course for an afternoon?

supertrampofkansas 8 years, 4 months ago


etc.,etc.,etc. must be pretty bad. What is it BK? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Sure are a lot of slippery slopes today.

mom_of_three 8 years, 4 months ago

Tom, James Byrd, jr was murdered because he was black. that was the only reason. mathew shepherd was beaten because he was gay. And because murders, or those who beat up people due to their race or sexual status, sometimes do not receive a stiff enough sentence, hate crimes legislation makes sure that the sentence fits the crime. At least thats how I understand it.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 4 months ago

Thought crimes legislation is an insult to victims and their families. When a plaintiff enters a courtroom, their goal is justice for the crime, not an examination of the perpetrator's feelings toward the victim.

Ralph Reed 8 years, 4 months ago

Tom, you're reaching for some reason to blame this on Pres Obama. Stop, it ain't gonna work.

If you don't like hate crime laws then work to get them all repealed, not just the ones you don't like.

BTW, in response to your 0818, you wrote:

"Any violent crime against any person is a hate crime. You go down to Prospect as a white person and get the holy heck beat out of you by a few young black men, that's not a hate crime?"

Your first sentence is blatantly wrong. Case in point is that little girl in Linwood (i think), or at least SW Leavenworth County, who got hit by a rifle bullet. Was she shot because the idiot didn't like little girls and that was the primary reason? No, she was shot because some idiot was shooting his rifle in the fields and doesn't have the cohones to fess up.

You scenario is correct if the only reason you got stomped is because you are white and the assailants said so, or it can be proven that's the reason. However, if you went down there talking like you write here, then it can simply be chalked up to self defense on their part.

One question. You said,

"You go down to Prospect as a white person ..."

Do you go down to Prospect as something other than a white person?

ferrislives 8 years, 4 months ago

75x55 (Anonymous) says…

"Curious how little influence the 'commander-in-chief', with ability to issue executive orders, seems to have… One almost thinks he's only pandering and doesn't really care about the issue."

75x55, I know you like the old days of the president doing whatever they want with executive orders, but maybe the current president prefers to follow protocol with passing new laws. Perhaps he likes to do things in a way that our forefathers would respect. Get over it already.

mom_of_three (Anonymous) says…

"Tom, James Byrd, jr was murdered because he was black. that was the only reason. mathew shepherd was beaten because he was gay. And because murders, or those who beat up people due to their race or sexual status, sometimes do not receive a stiff enough sentence, hate crimes legislation makes sure that the sentence fits the crime. At least thats how I understand it."

I agree that murderers don't receive sentences that are stiff enough, but that's where the law should be changed. We need much stiffer sentences for murderers and rapists. I also agree that if a black person was to kill a white person simply because of his race, they should also be prosecuted under the hate crimes laws. That's only fair.

craigers 8 years, 4 months ago

Maybe the legislation should be more aimed towards correcting our punishment for abuse, murder, etc. By making the punishment more harsh because of a hate crime is stupid. Either the act was wrong or it wasn't. A crime against a special class shouldn't be punished in a more severe way.

jaywalker 8 years, 4 months ago

"hate crimes legislation makes sure that the sentence fits the crime."

Not really. Having an indictment for a hate crime tacked on to other charges only adds 5 years to the sentence.

And as ferris references, hate crime legislation is relatively race exclusive. I don't believe we've had a black defendant that's killed a white person charged with a hate crime, and I doubt we will. If the law cannot be applied equally it should be repealed, and I'm not sure how it could possibly meet that standard. On the other hand, I'm all for Shephard's and Byrd's killers gettting the death penalty right off the bat, and I'd love to include rapists and molesters in that mix as well.

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 4 months ago

Stop the hate of broccoli now! It's simply a crime people.

mom_of_three 8 years, 4 months ago

20/20 never said Shepard was a meth user. 20/20 reported that murderers were meth users, and acquaintances of all three said Shepard was a meth user. And Shepard could have been involved in drugs. According to the murderer, Shepard made an advance on him, and then the murderer robbed him, and then took him and beat the daylights out of him. the former police commander doesn't believe the drug use by the murderers is the reason for the attacks but because shepard was gay.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

tom, when i'm in KC, i can only visit prospect SOME of the time because i am only PART black. they leave me alone on my "black identified days". on the couple of days of the month that i identify closer to my native american heritage i might risk walking down a sidewalk on that street but on my white identified days-- no effing way. i tried doing that once and i got a rock filled sock upside my head. never do that again....

anyway, i applaud my mulatto brother for signing this into law. gay folks don't deserve to get their hindsides kicked just because they are gay. period. people can put whatever kind of pedophile-friendly spin on it they want but those are the same folks who probably didn't mind that a young man got strung up and left to die in wyoming a few years back.

remember_username 8 years, 4 months ago

BlessedSap - What do you know about Are they reliable? Is it just more spin? Called Accuracy in Media, do they have both liberal and conservative members in their organization? A balanced fact checking organization should be independent of both political extremes else they become just another mouthpiece for one side or the other. I agree "stop the lies", but who's telling the truth? Does anybody really look for themselves anymore? Is it so easy to just buy in to the side that tells you what you want to believe?

kmat 8 years, 4 months ago

That 20/20 piece was flawed and has been proven to be flawed. The girlfriends of the P.O.S. murders changed their stories many times and most of the "evidence" to prove this wasn't a hate crime is from these two druggie loser girls that were banging the murderers. They changed their stories years after the fact and we're supposed to believe them?

The murderers even used the "gay panic defense" as part of their excuses for the crime. They were meth heads. They intentionally picked up a gay person to rob and murder. They made an example of him by strapping him to a fence and leaving him to die. If they weren't making an example of him, they would have just dumped him somewhere. They wanted everyone to see what happened to the "homo" in their redneck community.

The HIV rumor was started by a friend of the murderers.

BlessedSap is a P.O.S. for the blatent B.S. he/she is posting.

No matter what, to pass law that insurs that anyone that deliberately targets another person because of their race, sexual orientation or religion gets guaranteed harsher punishment is a good thing. There are a lot of sick bastards out there that do target people for these reasons. Any tool that can help keep them locked up is a good thing.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 4 months ago

Taking into account how criminals feel about their victims communicates one signficant and ufortunate message: it's more important to focus on our differences than on what unites us.

kmat 8 years, 4 months ago

Barry - please explain how urinating on a painting of Jesus and beating a gay man to death and intentionally putting his body on display, strapped to a fence, are the same? Really, I want to hear this.

Did pissing on a painting hurt anyone? NO. It's just an expression of free speech. You may not like it, but that's what it is.

Beating a person to death because they're gay on the other hand is not freedom of speech. That's called MURDER!

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

don't you have to be inbred to be a redneck?

gphawk89 8 years, 4 months ago

What a bunch of crap.

OK, if a greenie torches my Hummer because he hates gas guzzlers, shouldn't that be a hate crime?

If a group of drunk Wildcats beat me up for yelling "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk" in their midst, shouldn't that be a hate crime?

To protect one particular group of individuals would seem to be discriminatory.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

guess that's one of the upsides to being a "halfrican american" (to coin a phrase from rush limbaugh)... having parents of different races pretty much ensures that i'm not inbred! :D

cleavageview 8 years, 4 months ago

Non-minorities? This thread is so sad, really. TS you are one of the saddest. You are in good company with the likes of BlessedSap, BK Garner, barrypenders, etc, etc, etc.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

gp, if a KSU fan attacks a KU fan that wouldn't be a hate crime that would be a "state crime". hahahahaha! <-- canned laughter

i gotta million of 'em...

remember_username 8 years, 4 months ago

Tom - You watched "Deliverance" 15 times? Man, your FBI profiler is going have a field day with that.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

blessedsap, yep... folks who are married to iguanas are also covered. beastiality is the new homosexuality.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

... and who among us hasn't watched deliverance 15 times? c'mon now-- keep it real!

9070811 8 years, 4 months ago


Gays are about 4-6% of the population, depending on who you ask.

Can one really know the statistical number of homosexuals with in our population? Is this only the "out" number of homosexuals?

I can guarantee you that a much high percentage exists.

That was not meant to be an argument, just something for you to consider.

I am very surprised, okay maybe not too much... that so many of you have your panties in a bunch about a hate crime law that protects a very controversial population.
Even if you are against LGBT community, why would want someone to suffer in ways you could never imagine? That's not very humanist or Christian of a person. As for the humanist perspective, some people don't care about other people's feelings. Which is contradictory to the fact that they care about a man being in love with man.

Guess that's another issue we have to put up with.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 4 months ago


You're confusing motive, intent to kill and the perpetrators feelings. They're all different things.

Brent Garner 8 years, 4 months ago

The issue here is that this law affords special protections to people that are not afforded to others. Attorney General Holder admitted this during testimony before the Senate.

In response to a question by Senator Sessions in which the Senator posed the hypothetical situation of a Christian minister being attacked by a gay activist over what the minister had said, namely that homosexuality is wrong according to scripture, would the minister be protected under this law. Holder said no. To quote Holder:

"Well, the statute would not – would not necessarily cover that. We're talking about crimes that have a historic basis. Groups who have been targeted for violence as a result of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, that is what this statute tends – is designed to cover. We don't have the indication that the attack was motivated by a person's desire to strike at somebody who was in one of these protected groups. That would not be covered by the statute"

So, in other words, for practical purposes, only gays and blacks are afforded protection under this law because of "historical crimes" committed against them. So, once again, under this administration we are no longer "equal before the law". A black can attack me and it is not a hate crime, but if I attack a black it is a hate crime. That is not equal justice.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

burger king, i would think that historically japanese would be covered because of the internment camps. oh, and you forgot amerindians.

so am i black enough to go about knocking white folks upside their heads and getting away w/ just a misdemeanor? oh happy day!!

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

are most white folk affluent?... wouldn't you say they make up less than 2% of the total U.S. population? i would think that there would be alot of folks who would be in the demographics to vote for obama again, tom, since you noted that he is mainly targeting white affluents. say-- are YOU affluent, mr. shewton? if not, wouldn't you fall in the obama-voting demographic? you act like super rich white folk make the world go round....

oh snap... i guess they do....

Stuart Evans 8 years, 4 months ago

gosh, this was so brave of Obama and Congress. what an amazing victory for everyone. Except that they knew it wouldn't pass on it's own, so they had to tack it on to a must-pass troop spending bill. the laughter at this administrations follies is deafening.

Danimal 8 years, 4 months ago

I've never understood how hate crime legislation is constitutional. Hate is just a form of speech and must be tolerated, violence is already illegal. I've just never understood why we needed additional laws to regulate something that is already illegal. I'm pretty sure in the commission of a hate crime you're still going down for murder, assault, or whatever other laws you've broken. Aren't most crimes "hate" crimes?

tbaker 8 years, 4 months ago

How does a prosecutor know what's in the heart of a violent criminal who harms some one? Aren't laws supposed to punish what we do? Since when does what someone think merit punishment?

Lets say guy A from race X punches his neighbor, guy B, in the face, who also happens to be from race X. One Halloween party several years ago, guy B's wife testifies at the assault trial, guy A uttered a homosexual invective toward guy B concerning the appearance of guy B's Halloween costume. No one knew guy B was gay at the time of the remark, but since the assault, guy B has decided to announce the fact he has been gay for many years and has decided this assault trail against his neighbor would be a good time to "come out."

So was this a hate crime?

denak 8 years, 4 months ago

:....A black can attack me and it is not a hate crime, but if I attack a black it is a hate crime...."

Not true. I did a quick google search and turned up 5 cases where African-Americans were charged with hate crimes against white people.

"Aren't most crimes “hate” crimes?.." No, not even close. In fact, I would argue that hate isn't a primary motive for most crimes. People commit crimes for jealousy, greed, power, opportunity, and a myriad of other reasons. Just because someone commits a violent a crime against someone, doesn't mean they hate them. In a lot of cases, the person doesn't feel anything for their victim. Sometimes, the only emotion they have is boredom.

"....Thought crimes legislation is an insult to victims and their families...." First, hate crime legislation is not penalizing thought. You can think whatever you want. Hate crime legislation criminalizes "action." You can think whatever you want. You can plan someone's murder. But the minute you put that plan into action, you commit a crime. As for whether or not it insults the victim, I doubt it. Think for a moment how that family already feels. Their family member is in the hospital or dead and the only motive for that crime is because he or she was xyz. That is the only reason. It is one thing to beat someone up during a robbery. Or to shoot someone during a bad drug deal. Those motives, while painful, are understandable. The victim or victim's family know that if circumstances were different than they may or may not have been violated. They know that if they do something different (ie walk home when it is light) then they may not be victimized again. But a person can not change the color of their skin. For the rest of their life, they are going to know in no uncertain terms that they were targeted not because they were an easy mark, or because they took the wrong path home but because they were the wrong color. Something they can not change. How do you think that is going to make the person feel? How do you think it makes the family feel? The community. Hate crime damages not only the individual person but the community at large. Hate crimes not only terrorize the individual but society also.

Hate crimes are not an American liberal idea. Hate crime legislation is either law or up for review in numerous countries such as Germany, Bosnia, Italy and Canada. Some of these countries know from first hand experience what it means to have one group targeted simply and solely because of someone's ethnicity.


Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

and if i might add to your point, dena, crimes of passion usually involve love (of some "sort") rather than hate. and of course, the whole adage about there being a thin line between the two of them... that is indicative of crimes o' passion as well. a woman walks in on her husband doing the wild thang w/ another female and pow! someone gets a blunt object over the head and wifey dear winds up in jail. it is debatable whether that crime was fueled by love or hate but you wouldn't be able to lump it in w/ what happened to matt shephard. the husband didn't get lights out because he enjoys having sex w/ women or because he is heterosexual he got the beat down because he was having sex w/ a woman OTHER than his wife.

kmat 8 years, 4 months ago

tbaker - been reading anything about all the recent hate crimes against latinos? Let's see, when the criminals say they burnt down a house because "mexicans lived there", I think that easily constitutes a hate crime.

You're example is just stupid.

How about an example like this real crime - "In September 2000, two local white men posed as contractors and lured two Mexican day laborers — from a house next door to the one that burned this July — to a warehouse where they stabbed and beaten nearly to death. "

Ever heard of skin head groups that target certain people? Those are hate crimes.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 4 months ago

Does anybody think hate crimes/thought police laws will be a deterrent to crime?

We know that the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder.

We know that three-strikes laws are not a deterrrent to felonies.

We know that tough drug laws are not a deterrent to drug use.

Why should we think that another feel-good law thown as a bone to a special interest group is going to do anything practical in the real world?

denak 8 years, 4 months ago


I'm not a lawyer but, in my opinion, the answer to your question is no, this is not a hate crime. There is one crime in this scenario and one potential crime. There is a battery (GuyA punching GuyB) in the face and a possible assault(Guy A's words beore punching GuyB.)

An assault is defined as "intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm." Since we don't know exactly what Guy A said, I can't tell you whether or not he committed an assault. If, for the same of argument, GuyA said to GuyB, "Man that costume is so gay" that wouldn't be an assault because his words would not have caused GuyB to fear for his safety. It was a stupid insult. One that is all too common today. However, if GuyA went up to GuyB and said something to the effect, "Man I'm going to kick your ass for wearing something so gay" that could constitute an assault if GuyB believed that GuyA was in fact going to kick his ass. The fact that GuyB comes out later as gay is irrelevant because at the time of the crime, GuyA's motive was not the fact that GuyB was gay but that he did not like GuyB's style of costume.

Now, lets say GuyB was out and everyone knew it. If GuyA had come up to him and said something to the effect, "Man, why did your faggot ass move into my neighborhood. Look at your costume...god how queer can you get. I hope all of your fag friends die of AIDs. I can't stand you homos" and then GuyA went and punched GuyB, then yes, it is conceivable that GuyA would be charged with "intimadation in the first degree" which is the hate crime designation for a lot of states because GuyA's motive was based on GuyB's sexual orientation and that was his only reason.

Like all crimes, the D.A. has to look at both the motive(reason) and the intent(what the person hoped to gain from the crime) to determine a charge. And if GuyA's motive and intent was just to insult GuyB, then it isn't a hate crime. However, if GuyA's motive and intent was because GuyB and GuyA wanted to initmadate him, then it could be a hate crime.


P.S. I didn't touch on the battery but I think it is self-explanatory. GuyA hit GuyB. GuyB was not threatening GuyA in any way. GuyA is guilty of battery.

beawolf 8 years, 4 months ago


Your example exemplifies the pure idiocy of your twisted logic. I wish there was an ignore feature to these blogs. You would be my first entry.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

i actually was wondering about that as well, tom. i've seen a helluvalot worse stuff posted by you!

begin60 8 years, 4 months ago

This new hate-crime law is joyous news for the equal rights community. So all you self-flattering and bigoted do-gooder types who approach strangers in public on the basis of stereotypes with the insultingly patronizing question,"Need help?" please realize you are targeting and potentially harassing others illegally. Do yourself a favor and avoid potential hate-crime/harassment charges and don't approach strangers and get up so presumptuously in their business. The "I'm o.k., you need help" crowd needs to be put down. Their ignorance is polluting the earth and they are creating a hostile environment for thinking people.See you in court, useless rabbit-multiplying tribes of insufferable busybodies!

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

am I one of them superstars, tom?! :D

hey, for what its worth, atleast you seem like you have a conscience. some people on here truly seem like they have a scary side to them.

and that's all of the niceness you will get from this halfrican american today, sir shewmon. and yes, the rain is kind of dreary but its october-- i guess its to be expected.

have a good one :)

tbaker 8 years, 4 months ago

Beawolf - See denak's reply to my post. It was lucid, thoughtful, and informative. You could learn by the example it sets. Wise up.

He explained, in a very practical way, how this hate crime legislation has added a new dimension to our legal system, and whether I agree with it or not, he provided an excellent example of how my scenario could potentially be treated in court.

By the way, if you so wish to ignore me, why did you reply to my post? Go ahead - ignore me again and reply to this one. LMAO!

jaywalker 8 years, 4 months ago

"Do you have a crime that was perpetrated by one or more black people, against one or more people of some other racial identity"

What are you babbling about, agno?

begin60 8 years, 4 months ago

The import of this headline just sunk in---Obama has indeed signed the first major federal law protecting gays, a cause I wholeheartedly support! In my experience with more long-lived civil rights laws though, enjoying the full spirit of a non-discrimination law lags way behind enacting its simple letter, especially in places outside of California, the east coast or major cities somewhat west and more democratic than Kansas.

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