HRC Expresses Alarm Over Recent Spate Of Apparent Hate Crimes

The Human Rights Campaign expressed concern over recent
violent crimes against gay and transgender victims in New Mexico, North
Carolina, Virginia, New York and California. These crimes underscore the
need for laws that protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
Americans from bias-motivated crimes.

"Hate crimes are a scourge across our nation," said HRC President Joe
Solmonese. "Violence in any form is appalling, but the damage done when
a hate crime is committed goes far beyond the individual. The entire
community is left feeling open to attack and at risk. We should honor
the lives of all hate crimes victims by passing strong and meaningful
laws that ensure hate violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender Americans will be investigated and prosecuted."

Rashawn Brazell, an African-American gay man in Brooklyn, N.Y., went
missing Feb. 14. Over the next two weeks, investigators found Brazell's
severed limbs, torso and pelvis. While the case is ongoing and the
motive of the killer is unknown, the youth GLBT community in Brooklyn is
concerned for their safety following this grisly crime. New York's hate
crimes law covers bias crimes where sexual orientation was a factor, but
not gender identity.

James Maestas and Joshua Stockham were assaulted in Santa Fe, N.M., on
Feb. 27, by six men who began yelling anti-gay comments after seeing
Maestas and Stockham kiss. The group physically assaulted the two men,
knocking Maestas unconscious and breaking his nose. New Mexico's hate
crimes law covers bias crimes based on gender identity and sexual
orientation. Prosecutors are seeking hate crimes penalties against the
men.

On March 1, Thomas Stockwell, a 21-year-old student was assaulted,
suffering broken bones, by a dozen men who had been following him and
making anti-gay comments. North Carolina has a hate crimes law, but it
does not include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected
categories.

In early March, Eddie Chung Chou Lee was found stabbed to death in Daly
City, Calif. Lee, who was a biological male, was wearing woman's
clothing and police are investigating the murder as a hate crime.
California's hate crimes law includes both gender identity and sexual
orientation as protected categories.

On March 5, Marvin Jackson, an African-American 18-year-old, was
assaulted at a party by guests who targeted him because he is gay.
Although the police in Suffolk, Va., have called the crime a hate crime,
Virginia's hate crimes law does not include sexual orientation or gender
identity as protected categories, meaning the perpetrators in the case
will not be charged with a hate crime.

"There's an insufficient and narrow patchwork of laws now that leave
millions of GLBT Americans unprotected," added Solmonese. "It's past
time for a meaningful and comprehensive hate crimes law at the federal
level."

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