LANSING -- A Kalamazoo lawmaker is looking to expand Michigan's hate-crime legislation and impose steeper penalties when crimes target a victim's race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or military status.More confirmation that the real target of this legislation is speech.
A bill authored by state Rep. Robert Jones, D-Kalamazoo, to give "law enforcement and prosecutors more tools to deal with hate crimes" was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
A similar bill was approved by the Democrat-controlled House in the last legislative session, but it failed to pass the Senate, which is majority Republican. Jones and then-state Rep. Lorence Wenke, R-Comstock Township, were co-sponsors for that bill.
AFAM officials also contend the bill could be used to prosecute as accessories "pastors and others who speak out against the homosexual agenda ... any time a violent crime is committed against an individual who's involved in homosexual behavior or cross-dressing."Why mention 'verbal harassment', which is just speech they don't like, unless the goal of the law is to ban it.
Jones called that charge untrue.
"What family doesn't have someone with a disability or an ancestry of different national origins, ethnicity, race or religions, members with different veteran's status or sexual orientation?" Jones said. "All hate crime is wrong, and if we cannot say that or we want to exclude someone, I'm not for that."
Locally, the Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality says studies show that 40 percent of transgender people report experiencing physical abuse or violence, 80 percent say they have been verbally abused or harassed, and nearly half claim they regularly feel unsafe.
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