In 2007, latest statistics, over 1,450 hate crimes were committed against gays. This does not really measure the actual number because many gays are closeted and feel that they cannot call the police. Thus, the number represents serious crimes, normally involving injuries. I personally have two friends in wheel chairs for life because of queer bashing, and a friend of mine, a young banker, was beaten to death by five high school students who found him walking in a gay area of Houston.
On October 28 President Obama signed the new Hate Crimes Act, fought against for years by Republicans who used the term "special rights." True, a crime is a crime, and all should be punished equally. The fact is that crimes against gays across the country are not always treated equally because of the vast number of conservatives judges. Often a perpetrator claims, "He propositioned me" or "He groped me," and the judge dismisses the case or gives a light sentence. Remember how blacks have been treated in courtrooms.?
Also, local law enforcement often take these cases lightly. In many places the police try to ignore certain cases because of their prejudices and give little time for investigation. As to this legislation, by providing federal officials the authority to investigate and prosecute cases in which violence occurs because of victims' real or perceived sexualorientation, gender identity, gender, or disability, the "Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act" will significantly strengthen federal response to these horrific crimes. Thus, more cases will be given the attention they deserve. Already, such protection exists when crimes are committed on the grounds of race, religion, and national origin.
The bill does not increase the penalty but allows for more thorough investigation, preventing those prejudiced against gay or blacks from minimizing the crime as so often happens).