If there are just a few things my parents, teachers, and priests all had in common, one is that they cared for me, and another is that they wanted me to care for others. From an early age, they taught me the importance of respect and tolerance toward each other, especially toward people who are different than me.
Now, I'm not part of the LGBT community. But that's not my choice. That's nobody's choice. You are or you aren't, just like you are male or you are female. Thus, any form of hatred toward someone who is LGBT is downright unacceptable.
How sickening that that so many people have a deep-seated resentment of people who just happen to be different than them - in race, gender, sexual orientation, you name it. Even worse is the fact that so many people find it necessary to act on their hatred through violence.
Today the Triangle Foundation released its study of hate crimes in 2007, and probably to no one's surprise, reports of anti-LGBT hate crimes have skyrocketed nationwide, especially in Michigan.
(I received the report via email; quotes and data are from that email.)
As Melissa Pope, Director of Victim Services at the Triangle Foundation, says:
Hate violence is unlike any other crime in America. Most crime is motivated by personal gain, but hate violence is different. Hate violence is purely about victimizing a person because of who they are. It is a form of terrorism that punishes entire communities, even people that were not the target of the violence.
Reports of hate violence against the LGBT community nationwide increased from 1,486 in 2006 to 1,833 in 2007 - a 23% increase.
In Michigan, however, the increase was 133% - from 97 reported incidents in 2006 to 226 in 2007. There were also 72 reports of discrimination, such a being fired from a job or evicted.
And surely there are many other such incidnents that have not gone reported for any of a number of reasons.
What goes through the mind of a hate criminal? What about their innocent fellowman propels a person to harm them? What do they hope to accomplish by committing an act of violence against someone who, goodness knows, they just might have to depend on for something important someday?
And why must the rest of us suffer? (These crimes affect all of us in many ways, whether you realize it or not.)
State Sen. Hansen Clarke is trying to do something about this:
Hate crimes are among the most cowardly, vicious acts committed. I regret to learn that the number of reported hate crimes has more than doubled in the last year. It is not too late to stop the hate and through my legislation the Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Act will expand, increasing punishment for hate crimes and adding extra protection to Michigan’s gay and transgender community. To keep Michigan citizens safe, I look to my colleagues to support my bill.
How many of his colleagues will stand up for the safety of our citizens? And how many will stand by idly while our state, her people, and therefore the livelihoods of ten million citizens of Michigan continue to suffer?