The Senate Is To Vote….

Dear Senator Bond,

Today, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act will be brought to the Senate floor for a vote as a part of the Defense Authorization Bill. And as a constituent of yours, I strongly encourage you to vote in favor of this bill.

This is not a time to walk the party line nor is it time for personal belief. This is a time to put other constituents and other citizens at first. Yes, I do know the Republican Party has a hard-line stance against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and I’m sure you have your objections, as well. But I’m asking you to put all of that aside and think about those that would be greatly benefited by the passing of this bill.

Yes, I do know that all crimes are wrong and are hateful in nature. But this goes beyond that measure. This measure helps make sure that LGBT citizens…including the LGBT citizens of the state of Missouri, are protected from crimes committed against them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This allows local and state law enforcement agencies to seek assistance from the federal level if they don’t have the resources needed for an investigation, and it also makes sure that those that committed the crime are not let off.

The original hate crimes legislation, passed in the late 60s, was a result of the crimes against African-Americans in the deep South where the perpetrators often went unpunished or had a lesser punishment placed upon them. I know we don’t like to think that this kind of stuff happens today, but, in all honesty, Senator, it does. There are places in this nation where the local law enforcement will turn a blind eye to crimes committed someone in the LGBT community.

I’ve heard the argument that this bill would put a stop to preacher’s talking about how homosexuality is a sin and whatnot. But after reading over it, I can assure you it does not. Even with the current hate crimes laws on the books, the KKK and even the Neo-Nazis are still allowed to protest and rally legally and to say what they want….so long as they don’t physically act. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act does the same thing. It will still allow preacher’s and other religious officials to say what they want about homosexuality, so long as they don’t physically act or tell someone else to physically abuse someone. There was talk that a religious official could be held responsible if someone listening to their anti-gay remarks and acted upon them. But, from what I know in this country, it is those that have perpetuated the crime that are held responsible….no matter what anyone else might have said that could have provoked that person. The way that someone else is held accountable besides the perpetrator is if they were somehow directly involved in the plotting or carrying out of the crime…and if they did not try to prevent it upon learning of it.

I will be honest with you, Senator. Even my own parents worry about me sometimes as I am out and an active member in my community and helping to make my community a better place for all its citizens. This transcends more than the argument lets on. It will allow an entire community of your constituents and of all citizens to feel as if they are protected under the law and should something unthinkable happen, that those that commit such a crime will receive a punishment that is just and fits the crime.

I ask you, Senator….please, from the deepest part of my heart, support the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Think of the good it will do. Think of the positive effect it will have upon an entire community of citizens that often feel like they are a pawn of politics and second-class citizens. I ask this of you not just for myself but for all the LGBT citizens of Missouri. I thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

James S.

(Also note that this exact same letter….with the exclusion of the second paragraph….was also sent to Senator Claire McCaskill.)

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