January 21, 2009: A 44 year old Bolingbrook, IL man was charged with aggravated battery and a hate crime after beating up a 15 year old boy while making derogatory remarks about the juveniles sexuality. The boy, who had apparently gone to the house to visit a friend, refused medical treatment; however, he did report the assault to his mother who contacted the police.
These are the sorts of crimes that make the passage of federal hate crimes legislation so important. Many states do not currently have hate crimes legislation and a large portion of these crimes go uncounted. HR 1592, (commonly, The Matthew Shepard Act) is written to expand current hate crimes legislation to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. Although the law has been circulating through congress since 1999, it has never passed. Upon approval in 2007 by the House of Representatives, then President George W. Bush indicated should the Act pass Congress, he would veto the measure. The new President Obama has indicated that he supports the passage of the Matthew Shepard Act. Please write to your senate leaders and explain the importance of this legislation. To find out how to contact your senator, please visit the United States Senate Contact Page.