July 26th, 2008

365 Gay: News

Penn. Hate Crime Law Struck Down

(Philadelphia, Penn.) The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision striking down  amendments that added sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry, gender, and mental and physical disability to the state hate crime law.

The law, known as the Ethnic Intimidation and Institutional Vandalism Act, was amended in 2002 to include protections for these groups by a two-thirds majority of the state legislature. Then-governor Mark Schweiker signed it into law.

The lower court ruled last November that the law was invalid because it had been tacked onto another, nonrelated bill. The ruling did not criticize the content of the law, only the way in which it had been passed.

“We are extremely disappointed that some of the most vulnerable people in Pennsylvania are now unprotected by our state’s hate crimes law,”¬† Equality Advocates Pennsylvania said in a statement.

Stephen Glassman, chairman of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, said that the court ruling will make it more difficult to fight hate crimes.

“It is vitally important for our agency to be able to respond to every act of hate and bias in the Commonwealth no matter who the victim may be,” said Galssman.

“We must protect the rights of people to be free from these hate crimes just as surely as we protect them on the basis of their religion, race, ethnicity or national origin.”

Last year, when the lower court struck down the law, Gov. Ed Rendell urged the legislature to immediately approve “appropriate legislation” reinstating the state’s hate crime protections.

So far the legislature has not taken up his request.

Both Equality Advocates and the Human Relations Commission said it would press lawmakers to act.

The challenge to the law came from a conservative, Christian group, Repent America.

Comments (7)

Sister Shameless Said: July 25th, 2008 at 2:58 pm
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    This is really sad….Repent America is a litigation-savvy ‘Christian’ right-wing extremist organization and they made headlines Philly when they would picket gay rights demonstrations and gay pride festivities and even the gay community night at the Phillies. They are incredibly mean-spirited and some of their members travel the country to picket gay pride festivities and other pro-gay rights events.

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Joshua Said: July 25th, 2008 at 3:00 pm
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    This is truely saddening.The thought that they oppose treating individuals of Amercia equally and fairly is mind boggling!

    how dare they support physical and verbal harrasment against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in order to inject their religion into OUR government!

    Jesus constantly talked about LOVING one another and instead they choose to persecute. How can they honestly call themselves christians?!!!

    Do they not remember the insanity of the Puritans?! Its as if theyre trying to revert back to that puritan state of stupidity!!! and what two people do in the privacy of their home is none of their business to dictate!

    I pray that they all see the errors in their false gospels before its too late.

    As Jesus said, “he who is without sin shall cast the first stone‚Ķ”

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Adidaddy Said: July 25th, 2008 at 4:06 pm
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    So I guess it’s open season on queers in Pennsylvania. Score one for the right.

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Scott Said: July 25th, 2008 at 4:46 pm
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    What a disgusting and irresponsible comment.

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Tim Said: July 25th, 2008 at 9:47 pm
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    Time to pack or pack up and move outta the State of Hate?

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Joshua Said: July 25th, 2008 at 9:57 pm
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    Im sure their time would be better spent helping third world countries get food and education, rather than wasting it on things that dont even concern them. Its rediculous. And they claim to be christians..seems more like they want to be ‘God’

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John Said: July 26th, 2008 at 1:31 am
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    I hope Repent America and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court enjoys their one year of “legal” gay bashing. Because Congress is going to pass the Matthew Shepard Act next year. President Obama will sign it into law. That will make all of this moot. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court has always held that federal hate crime laws are constitutional.

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