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Equality Alabama believes that violence against the LGBT community is a product of several factors.
Hate crimes are fueled by the perception of the perpetrator that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is reason enough to cause harm. The especially violent murders of Billy Jack Gaither in 1999 and Scotty Joe Weaver in 2004 are indisputable examples of hate crimes against the LGBT community where the murderers believed the victim deserved to be tortured and murdered because he was gay.
This perception is a result of religious and political oppression and the absence of sexual orientation and gender identity from the state’s hate crimes law.
While we believe that the religious freedom and freedom of speech upon which our country is founded allows people to believe what they want and say what they want, we recognize that the hateful rhetoric that is sometimes heard also causes harm.
The above mentioned hate crimes, and many others in our state, have been ignored by state legislators who continue to vote against the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to the hate crimes law. This gives the impression that LGBT people are unworthy of protection.
We support efforts to add sexual orientation and gender identity to Alabama’s hate crimes law. We also support efforts to strengthen anti-bullying or anti-harassment policies by including sexual orientation and gender identity in school policies regarding safety.
We will continue to educate the public, including religious and political leaders, about the issues that affect us and with the message that violence against any of us is wrong. Until the LGBT community is granted full equality, we will be thought of as unworthy of protection.
Equality Alabama also sponsors the Annual Vigil for Victims of Hate & Violence, this year on the steps of the State Capitol (rain location Union Station Train Shed) on February 20, 2011, at 4:00 pm.
Equal Rights. No more…no less!
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Equality Alabama, PO Box 13733, Birmingham, Alabama 35202
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