Archive for the ‘Hate Crimes’ Category

>A Gay weekend in Montgomery

February 27, 2011

>Last weekend was “Gay Alabama in Montgomery”. Two events took place that should have been better attended, but were meaningful and beneficial for those who did attend.

On Saturday Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out visited the capital of Alabama and spoke. Patrick McAlvey, a survivor of ex-gay therapy also presented his story. Equality Alabama sponsored this event. I got to spend a little time with Wayne on both Friday (in Tuscaloosa) and Saturday, and Patrick on Saturday.

If you haven’t seen Patrick’s video watch it. No one should have to go through this farce of therapy. Those who practice it should be prosecuted.

On February 20, 2011 the 13th Annual Vigil for Victims of Hate and Violence took place on the steps of the Capitol in Montgomery. Alabama needs a hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Remember, Billy Jack Gaither and Scotty Joe Weaver were both killed, in gruesome and torturous (thank you Gwen) ways that might have been prevented had the killers thought twice knowing that what they were doing was a hate crime that could result in stiffer sentences for their actions. Of course, many other hate crimes against the LGBT community have been committed, pretty much ignored by the press, and certainly ignored by our elected officials.

The Shouting Stones provided music…

…while the people gathered.

Rev. Paul Britner of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Montgomery gave the opening words and welcomed all of us. UUF also provided the venue for Truth Wins Out the night before.

Dr. Paul Hard gave a short intro that reminded us why we were there.

Equality Alabama Chair Dr. Joe Openshaw (me) also gave a welcome on behalf of Equality Alabama and reminded those in attendance of how important is is that they follow up EA’s letters to the state legislators with their own letters regarding an inclusive hate crimes law. EA sent letters to all the legislators last month outlining the issues important to us and to the state: hate crimes law, anti-bullying legislation and employment non-discrimination.

Mr. Rocky Twilley read a message from Rev. Jo Crisco, pastor at New Hope Metropolitan Community Church.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Choir provided True Colors.

Nancy Dobson presented the Billy Jack Gaither Humanitarian Award, presented yearly to a deserving recipient based on their commitment to justice and equality for all people.

The award went to Robert and Jean Graetz. Read about their award here.

Equality Alabama board member Shirley Ann Rawls introduced the keynote speaker…

…Ms. Gwynedd Adelaide Thomas.

Ms. Thomas gave a wonderful presentation, but what struck me the most were her many reminders of hate crimes committed against members of the LGBT community here in Alabama and elsewhere, and her introduction of the label “torture” to those crimes. In reality, those victims actually are tortured, often being beaten, burned, urinated on. Remember Scotty Joe crying Chris, please stop” as his murderer tightened the rope around his neck? It’s torture, all right.

Equality Alabama believes this is not a Democrat v. Republican issue, but a humanitarian issue, a love v. hate issue. All legislators should be interested in adding sexual orientation and gender identity to our hate crimes law in Alabama, as this could help to reduce violence in our state.

My photographer did not get a picture, but Rev. Elizabeth O’Neill, pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, gave the closing words.

A reception followed at the Ken Baker Center, which is managed by Equality Alabama.

This picture is from the day the center was dedicated.

I urge you to support the LBGT community in Alabama and the Ken Baker Center by joining Equality Alabama by getting on our email list and with a monetary contribution. A yearly contribution of $35 is suggested, along with a monthly contribution of whatever amount you can afford at this time. Our work is far from complete, and we need your support to continue. Click here to donate to Equality Alabama.

You don’t have to be gay to join or support Equality Alabama. We have many straight supporters, and if you believe in equality you should join too!

Our big weekend would not be complete without sharing our accommodations while in Montgomery.

While in the capital we stayed at The Lattice Inn and enjoyed wonderful accommodations and an enlightened and entertaining host.

I recommend The Lattice Inn when in Montgomery. I look forward to visiting again when the temperature is just a few degrees higher and the pool is open.

>Western Tribune column February 24, 2010 Hate Crimes

February 24, 2010

>My Western Tribune column for today, Wednesday, February 24, 2010.

I wrote this because another columnist wrote a homophobic column degrading gays and using religious based bigotry in denouncing hate crimes legislation.

This person is the former owner of an ambulance company and often brings to our attention his ties to the medical field. One might think that he would be aware of, or even seen, victims of hate crimes (beaten and bloodied that he made money off of by transporting them to receive medical care) and that his heart might have been softened a bit.

Apparently not. I’m not going to copy his column here, you will have to find a Western Tribune to read it. Or come over.

He doesn’t do any name calling re gays but he falls back on that old tired hateful use of the bible and that classifies as homophobia in my book.

At the end of the column I have inserted a video of the 12th annual Hate Crimes vigil in Montgomery on Sunday, including excerpts of Ox Freeman’s moving and powerful speech.

I am also sharing a couple of exclusive photos of the event.

Western Tribune column:

It bothers me a bit when someone claims, for whatever reason, that hate crimes laws are not needed. Maybe they’ve not had a son or daughter or friend attacked because of who they are.
In 2004 Christopher Gaines tightened the rope around 18 year old Scotty Joe Weaver’s neck as he cried in anguish, “Chris, please stop.”

Christopher didn’t stop, in spite of Scotty’s cries. Chris hated gay people so much that he felt it was OK to kill an 18 year old boy, then urinate on the body and set it on fire.

Some claim that homosexuality is a sin, and that the Bible backs them up. Yet Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, instead he preached about heterosexual relationships and divorce. If one really studies the Bible, instead of just memorizing the talking points, they would recognize that the verses that mention same-sex activity are not at all critical of homosexuality as an orientation, but rather against specific immoral acts involving abusive relationships or improper worship.

Yet just last year I saw Christians holding signs that say “sodomites are vile, unnatural and worthy of death,” here in Birmingham. I saw Baptist minister Fred Phelps in town a few years ago holding signs that said “God hates fags.” Phelps was here to protest a memorial for Billy Jack Gaither, another gay man who was murdered and burned in 1999.

When I see Christians actively promoting the death of gay people and others who claim to be Christian looking for reasons not to enact protections against such crimes, I am disheartened.

All crimes are not based on hatred, as some think. A mugger does not attack and kill his random victim because of hatred of the individual he has chosen. But a man who chooses his victim because of his race or his sexual orientation has allowed his hatred to dictate his actions.

Speaker Ox Freeman and Equality Alabama board members at the rally

On Sunday the 12th annual Hate Crimes Vigil took place on the steps of the capitol in Montgomery. The event remembered Scotty Joe Weaver and Billy Jack Gaither and others, and awareness of the need for a state law was raised.

Adam and Steve (yes, God did make them) at the vigil

You may not be gay, but you might have a child or sibling or other relative or a friend who is.

Let’s stop using religious based bigotry that endangers them and pass a state law that helps to protect them.

Here is the video of the event . Thanks Lori!

Here is a documentary about Billy Jack Gaither. There are interviews with family members and there is a homophobia questionnaire that I think some acquaintances of mine need to take.

Frontline documentary

The interview with Charles Butler is particularly fascinating, as he speaks about Steve Mullin’s likely sexual relationship with Billy Jack, and why he thinks he turned on his friend and killed him.

Such self hatred is very dangerous, and religious based bigotry only fuels the fire.


October 28, 2009

>Be sure to read my Western Tribune column that follows.

It’s time to celebrate.

In my Western Tribune column on November 19, 2008 , I made the following prediction:

“Barack Obama may not immediately grant all of our wishes, but I would be willing to bet that the first legislation that mentions sexual orientation to be passed and signed by a president will occur within the first year of his administration. And then we will be on the way to a nation that values each of its citizens.”

Moments ago, that prediction came true. President Obama has signed legislation enacting the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

It took 11 years after the murder of Matthew Shepard and and James Byrd, Jr before this legislation was signed.

Thankfully we now have a president who supports (however slowly) our community, unlike the previous president who…well we won’t even bring that up.

To see what the gay community must do to see that equality is reached, go here.

Locally, in Birmingham, we can celebrate because the Board of Education has passed a policy on Anti-Bullying that includes sexual orientation, gender identity and expression!!! The first of its kind in the state. Thanks to board member Howard Bayless for leading the way on this. Will Bessemer follow suit?

Now, if we can just get a verdict in the Larry Langford trial.

Update: Langford guilty on all counts. Carole Smitherman is now mayor of Birmingham. Let’s see about electing Patrick Cooper.

Here’s a video from my college years. Three Dog Night

>Things didn’t start out right today

July 2, 2009

>I like to read the morning paper by holding in my hand with a cup of coffee on the table. But once again, the Birmingham News did not deliver today.

I know, I could read online, but I really can’t stand because of their never ending pop ups and crap.

But I did read John Archibald’s column because it is about Priscilla Dunn’s victory in the District 19 Senate race.

At the Lipscomb Fire Station, where 373 people are registered, just 11 came out. That’s a turnout of just 2.9 percent. It’s a number — really — that is smaller than the percentage of people who live below the poverty level in Mountain Brook.


At Fairfield City Hall, where 114 people are registered to vote, just six bothered to show up. There were 23 voters at Mulga Town Hall, 41 at Brookside City Hall, and 41 at Forestdale Square.

I’d really like to meet the voter who bothered to show up at Hueytown Community School. It’s true only 39 voters in the district are registered there, but still. Only one hearty soul came.

Forget one man, one vote. We’re practicing one man, one voting place…

That is absolutely pitiful. Of course, as I alluded to yesterday, it’s shocking that more people voted in the runoff than in the primary.

Hey, if we can get voters in Bessemer to continue their apathy next year, maybe we can elect a progressive candidate that will offer solutions to problems rather than just thanking God for our blessings (number 9 most dangerous city in the country, potholes in every street, “thank you God”).

So, I’m sitting here getting the run around regarding a writing opportunity and left to think about “Do I really want to be living here?”

No, it’s not just about the crime rate. I want to see that changed. And it’s not just about having air quality that keeps me confined to the house (I don’t always observe the recommendations, but I do suffer when I try to have a life on “ozone” days). I would like to see that changed, too, but there’s Alabama Power.

It’s more about living in a city located in a county that is trying to reduce law enforcement (thankfully we have a sheriff that will stand up to the county commission), about to stop inspection services (so houses can be built without adhering to proper electrical and plumbing and construction codes…if a contractor so chooses), and is unable to support the arts and the quality of life issues that I seek.

And its about living next to a “major” city that controls the doings of the metro area, with a mayor who is an absolute nutcase. (Well, at least he supports the zoo).

Today I could continue my theme of glbt hate crimes (a teenager in the UK , a bar in Fort Worth in a case that I have been following, a sailor at Camp Pendleton and there are more)…

Jason Saunders, age 18, in the UK

…but I think I’ll just post this video of an unemployed chicken catcher from Mayfield, Kentucky that wowed the judges last night on America’s Got Talent. I like Garth Brooks, by the way.

>Hate Crimes: Sean Kennedy and Jeff Sessions

June 26, 2009


Remember when I wrote the post about Sean Kennedy? I also referenced it the other day.

To refresh your memory, Sean was killed during a hate crime near Greenville, South Carolina, in march of 2007. He was lured to a car when a guy asked him for a cigarette. Stephen Moller got out of the car and called Sean “faggot” and punched him so hard it broke Sean’s facial bones and separated his brain from his brain stem.

A few minutes later Moller left a message on one of Sean’s friend’s phone: “You tell your faggot friend that when he wakes up he owes me $500 for my broken hand.”

Trouble is, Sean never woke up.

Moller received a five year suspended sentence reduced to three years (with credit for time served). Oh, and 30 days community service.

Why bring this up again?

Because I have just read his mother’s (Elke Kennedy) chapter in Mitchell Gold’s book “Crisis.”

She got the 4:30 am phone call. She rushed to the hospital in disbelief that anything could have happened to her son.

“When I finally got to see my son, my knees buckled. He was lying flat on his back, stitches on his upper lip, blood on his hair and neck, hooked up to a respirator.”

The last word Sean heard was “faggot.”

“At 11:20 pm, …my beautiful Sean was pronounced brain dead. My baby was gone forever. I would never be able to speak with him again, to tell him I love him.”

Even after his death, hate is aimed at his family. How did her church respond?

“After Sean’s death we were no longer welcome at our church. church friends stopped calling – they didn’t want to take sides! We do not belong to any church now. I have been told numerous times by people calling themselves Christians that my son is in hell and that I will go to hell because I love him and I fight for equal rights for all human beings. Although it hurts terribly when people say these things to me, it is nothing compared to the pain of losing my son.”

South Carolina, like Alabama, does not have a hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation or gender identity. Neither does the United States.

We are still waiting to see if an inclusive hate crimes law will be enacted on the federal level, and we can only hold our breath for so long.

Attorney General Holder urged passage of the bill by the Senate, and it could be passed as an amendment to another bill any day. Or not.

Of course Jeff Sessions opened his bigoted mouth during hearings.

But Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the committee, questioned whether data show there is sufficient need to pass hate crimes legislation for LGBT people.

“One of the things that’s important is to know do we have a problem of … noticeable number of cases not being prosecuted in state and local government relating to these kinds of issues that we’re calling hate crimes,” he said.”

First of all, Mr. Sessions, it does not matter whether a “noticeable number” of cases are involved or not. One dead man is enough. Sean’s case was not prosecuted as a hate crime. What if this had been your son, Mr. Sessions, whose brain “ricocheted in his head.”

Secondly, look at the statistics, Mr. Sessions. Yes, hate crimes against gays are up .

This man is dead. He’s part of the statistics. But what you are really saying, Mr. Sessions, is that you don’t give a damn what happens to gay men or the suffering that their mothers go through. That is shameful. But that comes as no big surprise, that’s your party standard.

>Hate Crimes

June 17, 2009

>Update: Please read this post where I modify what I said in this one.

Be sure to read my Western Tribune column, which follows this post. It is on a related subject.

While I am pleased that a Federal Hate Crimes bill including sexual orientation might soon become a reality, down here in the real world things are not so encouraging. The images you will see here are disturbing, and let’s be glad that they don’t come from Bessemer. But let’s not wait until one of our friends is pictured in this way (or worse) before we do something about it.

I am really concerned about my community. For the most part, a community can only be as strong as its leaders. That is unfortunate when the leaders are complacent about crime after two home invasions, both targeting minorities. You may get tired of reading about this, but until the Mayor of Bessemer (Ed May) and the Bessemer Police Department (led by chief Nathaniel Rutledge) realize that the white people and the gay people and the Hispanic people deserve the same protections and respect as the rest of the residents, I will keep the conversation going.

This is Ronnie Robertson, a 31 year old man from Ohio who was attacked last month after answering a question (“a mix of gay and straight people chose Tabby’s to play sand volleyball – but were harassed by a man who continued to ask who in the group was gay and who wasn’t & her brother finally answered. ‘When he admitted that he was, they lost it, went crazy and started attacking my brother and pushing him out of the bar.”)

From what I heard last night, had this crime occured in Bessemer, it would not have been investigated. The victim would have been called a liar by the police. The victim would have been accused by the Mayor of being friends with his attackers. The police department would be criticized by other law enforcement agencies for ignoring the evidence and turning a blind eye.

This is Eric Patten, a 20 year old man “charged with assaulting two young gay women in Provincetown,” last month.

While he is the one charged, he obviously picked the wrong lesbians to attack.

“At around 1:08 a.m. Saturday morning in Provincetown pedestrians alerted police to a fight on Commercial Street at the Post Office Café, an eatery in the center of town. Police saw Patten punching a woman on the ground, according to police Sgt. Carrie Lopes. The victim was one of two women, ages 22 and 23, who were allegedly assaulted by Patten. He is accused of punching one of the women with his right fist and calling the two women “faggots,” thinking they were gay men.”

Had this attack occurred in Bessemer, I do not have confidence that an arrest would have been made. If a report was even filed, it might have said “criminal mischief” or some such bull crap.

The Mayor and Chief cite statistics that crime is down. But their statistics are based on reporting. And when a man’s door is broken in an attempt to gain entry, something more than “criminal mischief” has occurred.

This is Lance Neve, who in March, 2008 was assaulted in Rochester, NY

“According to Ogden police, Lance Neve, 26, was with his partner, Osbert Maldonado, 28, of Rochester, and another friend at Snuggery’s Bar in Spencerport the night of March 7. They allegedly were subjected to derogatory comments throughout the night from Jesse D. Parsons, 24, of Spencerport. About 1 a.m. on March 8, Parsons apparently asked to shake Neve’s hand because he had never shaken a gay man’s hand, said Ogden police Investigator Scott Okolowicz. Neve refused, and Parsons then allegedly grabbed Neve and beat him up. When police arrived, Neve was unconscious. He was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for a fractured skull, nose, left eye socket and upper jaw bone and blood on the brain, Okolowicz said.”

His attacker got 5 1/2 years and has to pay over $24,000 in medical expenses. Had this attack occured here, Neve probably would have been out of luck. I say that, because there are indications that while individual police officers are fine men and women, the Police Department has an undercurrent (or tidal wave) of homophobia.

It will take more than a statement from the Chief to counter this. Evidence of qualified diversity training which includes sexual orientation and evidence of a policy which shows respect toward the LGBT community might do it.

h/t to Andy Towle at Towleroad for the pictures and quotes.

>Western Tribune Column June 17 2009

June 17, 2009

>(The photos were taken from an Iranian friend’s Facebook page)

In Iran last week Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s early claim of victory following the presidential election sparked some degree of protest and unrest. As I write tensions are still high and it is unknown what will happen in that country. Young people who overwhelmingly supported Ahmadinejad’s rival Mir Hussein Moussavi are in disbelief that their candidate lost.

Iranians in this country and in England are just as disappointed and while violence was unlikely, protests still occurred in areas where the Iranian population is significant.

(An elderly Iranian woman defending her vote)

I wonder what the reaction of young Americans would have been if Barack Obama had lost the election in this country. Many of his supporters, young and old, would have been shocked and some degree of protest would have occurred, no doubt, but it’s unpredictable whether it would have been to the degree that was seen in Iran.

Oddly enough, in spite of having a president who wants to unite people and bring the country together, it seems that in the United States that those who harbor hatred have also been inspired. Recently, a women’s health care provider who performed abortions for women with health problems was murdered in his own church. And just last week an African American security guard was killed at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.

People who track hate groups say that more incidents are likely.

The hatred that certain right wing fanatics have for certain minorities is only strengthened when they see the results of other lunatics. And they are further inspired by right wing talk show hosts like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh who demean our leader and others with what could be classified as hate speech. They need to realize that their hateful words have consequences.

Here and in Iran it seems that the majority of people, led by the young, want a peaceful world where everyone is accepted and respected. The United States and Iran are in different stages of this progression, yet in spite of the problems in both countries, it seems inevitable that progress will be made.

(A protester in Iran killed trying to defend his vote)

Let’s just hope that in both cases, cooler heads (and enhanced security measures) prevail and the radical elements on both sides are subdued. Of course, that might require doing something about those radio talk shows, too.

>Celebration Overcomes Adversity

June 15, 2009

>If the rains had persisted I imagine that the gay haters would have said it was God preventing the gays from having a successful Pride Parade and Pridefest. But on Saturday the skies cleared and the parade was fabulous, with hundreds of participants and thousands of spectators cheering us on. Then on Sunday, after the rain and winds blew over vendors’ tents and tables during set up, when it was time for the event to begin, the skies began to clear and the crowds came out.

I wonder if those same people who believe that God uses the weather to direct events will agree that God must have been watching out for the gay community and blessed us with good weather.

I don’t have pictures of the parade entries (there were 55-60, I guess) because I was driving, but I took pictures from the cab of the truck during the parade.

View all my pictures of Pride here. ( Or wait, more will be posted on the blog later in the week.)

Among the spectators was a group of two or three protesters, who I have dubbed the “haters.”

As believers in Free Speech most of us agreed that these guys (who hid behind their signs when they saw my camera) had a right to be there. But the next day, we were reminded what their hate speech represents.

Mr Gay Pride Andrew performed his powerful interpretation of the killing of Matthew Shephard

And then rose to perform “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”

I don’t have Andrew’s performance on video, but to remind you of the song, here’s Michael Ball performing:

The response to Andrew was as strong as that in the video. Gay people, and our allies, know loss. We’ve had friends (or ourselves) beaten or killed (Billy Jack Gaither, Scotty Joe Weaver, and Sean Kennedy ) or who took their own lives ( Bobby Griffith ) because of hatred. We know loss because we’ve had friends and loved ones die from a disease that was ignored by a president (Reagan) who cared less about gays than he did about smuggling arms and cocaine.

I am reminded of the Bible verse, “Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

There is so much hatred in our country, as evidenced by certain high profile killings, and in the world right now. My column in the Western Tribune this week addresses that, you will see it on Wednesday.

>Western Tribune Column February 4 2009

February 4, 2009

>This is my column from today’s Western Tribune.

Update: The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care bill (medical marijuana bill), which I mention in this column, will be before the Judiciary committee Thursday. Go to the link to see how you can support this effort. Priscilla Dunn of Bessemer is one of the members of the committee. Urge her to support the bill.

The political arena will be more active than usual over the next few months, as potential state senators scramble for the seat recently vacated by E. B. McClain. And when the special election is over, there may be a vacant state representative or Bessemer Council seat to fill. And if a certain state representative wins, a certain Bessemer council person will most likely run for that seat.

Fruit basket turnover.

Then, this month, Artur Davis is expected to announce his run for Governor. Various office holders, including one who is planning to run for McClain’s seat, have expressed interest in that office as well.

In the meantime, the Alabama legislative session begins this week. Last year, the senate shut down, who even remembers why? What we remember is a group of elected officials putting their differences above the interests of the people they represent.

As of this writing, 216 bills have been pre-filed in the house, and 59 in the senate. This includes a bill that would prohibit the cloning of humans as well as one that would require the owner of dangerous dogs to post warning signs on their property.

Wouldn’t it good to add this: prohibit the cloning of dangerous dogs, and require dangerous humans to post warning signs on their property?

A bill will once again be introduced to outlaw salvia, a little known plant that has even littler effects. As Loretta Nall says, if they want to go around outlawing problem plants, let’s start with kudzu.

Seriously (if the Alabama legislature can be taken seriously) there are some important issues that will be addressed during the session. Budgets and taxes and things like that. Let’s hope the legislators will be big boys and girls and play nice.

A bill that would legalize medical marijuana will likely be introduced. The American Medical Association recommends relaxing restrictions on the medical use of the plant, and science backs this position.

Marijuana is already the biggest cash crop in the state, with almost three times the production value as the runner up, cotton, according to the most recent numbers I found. We might as well regulate it. And put it to good use.

Other bills that should be passed include a hate crimes bill that includes sexual orientation and an anti-bullying bill that would protect kids in school. Our streets and schools need to be safer.

The upcoming weeks promise to be interesting.

>Hate Crime in South Carolina No Big Deal

June 12, 2008

>Sean Kennedy was killed in May 2007 by Stephen Moller, of that there is no doubt. But Moller will only spend about two and a half years in prison for the crime. His sentence is a whopping three years, but he gets credit for time served. In South Carolina, cock fighting lands a harsher sentence.

Sean was openly gay.

Moller punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground and causing a fatal head injury.

Moller claims he didn’t know Sean was gay, but an openly gay kid in town who particpates in pride and frequents the same bars…that’s hard to believe. Plus there’s this.

The warrant issued soon after the crime alleged that the assault was motivated by the fact that Kennedy was gay.

Moller made a phone call shortly after the crime and here is a transcript from MSNBC: “Hey. (laughter) Whoa stop. (laughter) Hey, I was just wondering how your boyfriend’s feeling right about now. (laughter) (??) knocked the f— out. (laughter). The f—ing faggot. He ought to never stick his mother-f—ing nose (??) Where are you going? Just a minute. (laughter). Yea boy, your boy is knocked out, man. The mother——-. Tell him he owes me $500.00 for breaking my god—- hand on his teeth that f—ing bitch”

He calls the person on the phone “man” and refers to Sean as the listeners “boyfriend.”

South Carolina doesn’t have a hate crimes law.

Moller will spend two and a half years in prison. Under South Carolina law, felony ill treatment of animals (torture or killing) is punishable by up to five years in prison. Cockfighting can land you three years in prison, plus a fine, a stiffer sentence than killing a gay kid, according to South Carolina Equality.

Elke Kennedy, Sean’s mother, said “There was no justice today for Sean. The sentence that Stephen Moller received, in my opinion, is a joke and a slap on the wrist. Once again, it proves that in South Carolina there is no justice.”

“I understand that the judge had to sentence according to the plea agreement and the existing restrictions under the law. But it doesn’t make it any easier for me. Our judicial system, in my opinion, is a joke.”

“Our solicitor invited me to help him with the changing these laws. Well, Mr. Ariail, I am here and I am willing.”

“I will still continue to push to get laws changed so no other mother has to stand here to tell you the same things,” she said.

In Alabama, there is no hate crimes law either, and Alabama justice is no better. But at least since that post the Alabama House of Representatives did pass a hate crimes bill, only to see it die (it was ignored, caused by a filibuster) in the Senate. But we made progress. Let’s hope progress continues… for Sean in South Carolina, and for Scotty Joe, Billy Jack and the others in Alabama.

You see, in Birmingham last weekend a thousand people particpated in the Pride Parade, many of them young like Sean. Every one of those parade participants walked by a sign saying that gay are “Worthy of Death.” There were other signs, too, but that one sticks out in my mind.

Worthy of Death. Aside from the fact that we are all going to die, displaying a sign like that only serves to encourage people like Stephen Moller and Christopher Gaines, whether they have carefully planned their crime or are caught up in emotion or drunk, “worthy of death” is now in their twisted mind, and to them, the killing is justified.

And it may not be that particular sign. It can be hateful language from the pulpit, or from a “pro-family” organization or such.

Someone tried to post a link to a group that encourages hatred toward gays on yesterday’s blog and I removed it. Read the comments from yesterday to learn more about that.

Stop the hatred, that’s all I’m saying.