Target: Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett
Goal: Urge governor to expand hate-crime laws to include sexual orientation
Following the vicious beating of a gay couple in Philadelphia, residents and state politicians are outraged to discover that the assailants will not be charged with a hate crime. According to the state’s hate-crime statute, offenses motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation cannot be prosecuted as a hate crime. Instead, those involved were charged with aggravated and simple assault, which could carry a sentence as little as one year—very different from the estimated 10 years for a hate crime.
The couple, whose names have not been released to the media, were walking in the City Center neighborhood, a very gay-friendly enclave, when they were approached by more than a dozen men and women, some of which appeared to be drunk. Someone in the group asked them if they were partners, and when they said yes, several individuals began to savagely attack them. Both men were later rushed to a nearby hospital where they suffered from facial fractures and lacerations. One of the men had to have his jaw wired shut.
Although Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett condemned the actions of the assailants, one of whom happens to be a basketball coach at a local Catholic school, it is unclear whether he will support a valuable bill, House Bill 177, which would expand hate-crime laws to include sexual orientation. For now, Pennsylvania remains the only state in the Northeast that doesn’t have anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation or gender expression. It’s also the last Northeastern state to embrace same-sex marriage, despite Philadelphia’s 40,000+ LGBT population.
While police are still searching for a handful of individuals, Philadelphia’s assistant district attorney and LGBT liaison, Nellie Fitzpatrick, told a local news outlet: “With or without the hate-crimes statute, there’s no question, this was a hate crime.”
In order for Pennsylvania’s LGBT population to feel safe, hate-crime laws need to include sexual orientation. Sign the petition to urge Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett to support House Bill 177 and condemn discrimination targeted at Philadelphia’s burgeoning LGBT community.
Dear Governor Corbett,
In the wake of the crime in Philadelphia’s Center City neighborhood, an enclave that’s home to a vibrant LGBT population, I am extremely perturbed to discover that Pennsylvania’s hate-crime statute does not include sexual orientation or gender expression. Instead, those involved will receive punitive sentences associated with simple assault, reckless endangerment and conspiracy.
As many as a dozen individuals are still lurking around Philadelphia, and other outlying neighborhoods, thinking that their actions are somehow justified. Simply put, hate-crimes charges need to be brought against these assailants, but only if you support House Bill 177, which would expand hate-crime laws to include sexual orientation. Despite Philadelphia’s 40,000+ LGBT population, the state continues to lag in granting true equality and respect to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. As a passionate supporter for LGBT rights, I believe it is dangerous for LGBT people to be without lawful protection.
I urge you to rectify Pennsylvania’s hate-crime statutes, and condemn violent prejudice against the gay-friendly community of Philadelphia by charging those involved in this vicious crime accordingly.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Varnent via Wikimedia Commons