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    April 29, 2007

    Sunday Survey: Rank the issues

    Posted by: Chris

    Maybe I shouldn't be surprised that more than two-thirds of you support hate crime laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected category, but I am. Not because I thought this blog's readers didn't back gay rights, but because I know quite a few of you are libertarian or conservative, and there are principled reasons to oppose hate crime laws (so long as you oppose them for all categories, including race and religion etc.). There are even states' rights reasons.

    But the vast majority of you (71.4%) said hate crime laws correctly punish the wider impact of bias-motivated offenses, a position that I espouse as well. Almost a quarter of you (21.4%) oppose hate crime laws on the ground that all crimes involve hate to some degree, while much smaller percentages oppose them because they infringe on free speech (4.1%) or the free exercise of religion (2%).

    Since surveys show overwhelming public support for hate crime laws that include sexual orientation it's no surprise that all the Democrats running for president are on board as well.  But the continued mushiness from the contenders about how they feel on other gay rights issues raises a good question for this week's survey:

    What gay issue do you think is most important in the presidential race?

    I've done my level best to come up with a good list, and it's up to you to pick the issue that's most important to you.  Remember this is not the gay rights issue that's generally most important to you, but the one you think should be most important in the presidential race.

    As always, vote in the Vizu survey on the right column of the blog.  Voting won't transport you to another site or open any annoying pop-ups.  Thanks and happy voting. 



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    1. Wes on Apr 30, 2007 1:38:30 PM:

      I'm just disgusted with the gay organizations for not providing any direction toward achievable goals, and I'm even more disgusted with the candidates we have to consider for 2008. Giuliani? At one time I was hoping to vote Republican again. Hardly after last week and his comment about N.H. civil unions. Richardson? He is looking quite unfriendly after the Byron White comment and is just a weak candidate. The others? Ugh...What have any of them done for us??

      Gay people need to be realistic and our national gay organizations need to come out with legitimate goals to work hard toward achieving. We can work toward married equality. But face it, in today's political climate it is not anywhere near. There are some things within our grasp (i.e. crumbs that the voting population would not mind our having) that we need to push hard for and incrementally advance our civil rights: don't ask, don't tell; equalizing benefits for federal workers ; maybe a few others. But what does 'hate crime' legislation do for anyone? If someone is killed or assaulted, the attacker should be punished severely regardless of the orientation, color, sex or whatever of the person being attacked. We have much better battles we could be spending our time and effort toward.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Apr 30, 2007 6:42:07 PM:

      Agreed, Wes.

      The best illustration for why hate crimes laws are wrong is this; anyone who assaulted me could be prosecuted and punished less if I did not say I was gay, but would be more if I did.

      Gays who push hate crimes laws should be required to state publicly that they believe that crimes against gays should be investigated more extensively and punished differently than crimes against heterosexuals. Or they can admit that their need for this is out of a belief that judges, law enforcement officers, and others are all homophobic and hateful and cannot be trusted to do their jobs.

    1. Citizen Crain on Apr 30, 2007 8:25:04 PM:

      You surprise me, NDT. Not for your view but for not knowing the law better. First of all, most hate crime laws punish offenses motivated by the victim's "actual or perceived" sexual orientation or gender identity etc. Even the states that don't, the courts interpret it that way. So it doesn't matter whether you or any other victim "says they're gay."

      Second, how do you read hate crime laws to say "crimes against gays should be investigated more extensively and punished differently than crimes against heterosexuals"? No hate crime law includes "gays" as a protected category (though the media often shorthands the description that way).

      The category is "sexual orientation." So a straight person targeted because of their sexual orientation would be covered every bit as much as you or I would be in a gay-bashing.

      Can we count on your support then? ;)

    1. Silas on May 1, 2007 3:52:17 AM:

      Second what C-Squared said.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on May 1, 2007 3:55:40 PM:

      "First of all, most hate crime laws punish offenses motivated by the victim's "actual or perceived" sexual orientation or gender identity etc."

      You just pointed out the problem, Chris; under hate crimes laws, it's the characteristics of the VICTIM, not the crime itself, that ultimately determine the level of prosecution and punishment.

      Furthermore, like you mentioned, even in states that do not codify "hate crime" laws, the motivation for the offense is perfectly acceptable as grounds for an investigation, as evidence presented to the judge or jury, and as a factor in consideration for sentencing.

      The reason and motivation for hate crimes laws is simple; most gays harbor a deep and abiding prejudice against law enforcement, the legal system, and trial by jury, believing that people are so homophobic that offenses against gays won't be investigated, prosecuted, or punished.

      I choose not.

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