Commentary: Gays need protection through hate crime laws

The Miami HeraldOctober 27, 2009 

Gay people are society's most rejected minority. The most convincing proof is that many parents are capable of abhorring and abusing their gay child simply because that child was born that way.

If there's something in that dynamic that's against nature it's the parents' rejection of their child — not the child's sexual orientation.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that hate crimes against gays receive the least attention. We have always been the last ones to receive protection from the law — if ever.

Which is why we need to sound the alarm in Broward County, the scene of several attacks —some of them fatal — against gays. Police are not investigating these attacks as hate crimes, which carry heavier penalties. Yet gay rights groups point to evidence that the Broward attacks involved violence directed at people because of their sexual orientation.

Fort Lauderdale is known as a gay tourism magnet. What would happen if word spreads among these big-spending travelers that being openly gay can kill you? They'd stop coming, because personal security is not negotiable.

As it is, the State Attorney General's Office has ranked Broward at the top for hate crimes three years in a row. Imagine if Broward had counted all the crimes against gays in that equation.

"It is time for local authorities to classify a hate crime as a hate crime," said Scott Halls, president of the Fort Lauderdale-based Gay American Heroes, a foundation that honors gay victims. "As long as our local law enforcement agencies dehumanize us by not classifying these brutal murders in Fort Lauderdale as hate crimes, they will continue to occur."

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