J.R.S. 18 in Support of Combating the Rise in Hate Crimes and Bigotry

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May 2, 2017 No Comments ›› maxinegrad

Rainbow Flag VermontJ.R.S. 18 is a Joint Resolution in support of combating the rise in hate crimes and bigotry.

It passed the House on a vote of 134-7.

It passed the Senate on a vote of 29-0.  

It passed the House Judiciary Committee on a vote of 11-0.

This resolution is an important and necessary statement that there is no place for hate in Vermont, and that the General Assembly stands with the LGBTQ community.

According to FBI data, LGBTQ community members are targets of violent hate crimes more often than any other minority. LGBTQ individuals are twice likely to be targets of hate crimes as African Americans.

As of April 6, 2017, the Human Rights Commission reports 130 bills in 30 states have introduced anti-LGBTQ bills.

On the federal level, the rollbacks of Title IX guidance and the removal of protections for LGBTQ employees of federal contractors point to a trend for the government to let the states follow their lead in changing or eliminating important protections.

Testimony demonstrated that LGBTQ individuals and holders of multiple marginalized identities are even more likely to experience sexual violence. As with most hate-based violence, transgender individuals are the most likely to be affected in the LGBT community. 64% of transgender people have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime. 

For years now, Vermont has been a national leader in the support of human rights and the rights of LGBTQ individuals. For decades we as lawmakers have supported victims of domestic and sexual violence.

J.R.S. 18 reinforces Vermont’s commitment to human rights and victim protections. It reminds us that as Vermonters, we denounce hatred, support equality, and uphold the dignity of every human being.

The resolution states:

Whereas, since the election cycle of 2016, there has been an increase in hate crimes throughout the nation, and

Whereas, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, during the ten days following the election, there were nearly 900 reports of harassment and intimidation throughout the country, and

Whereas, Vermont is in a unique position to lead the country in fighting bigotry and hatred, and

Whereas, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) community are concerned that rights and protections won over the years may be lost, and

Whereas, these concerns include the fear that the LGBTQ community and other marginalized communities may suffer physical danger, and

Whereas, a particular concern of the LGBTQ community is that silence will allow bigotry to take root in Vermont, and

Whereas, the LGBTQ community is hopeful that Vermonters’ history of rejecting extremists and meeting the challenges of hate and bigotry with love and fierce resistance will continue to prevail, and

Whereas, the General Assembly is in strong accord with these sentiments, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly calls upon Vermonters to denounce hatred and to support and respect marginalized communities, and be it further

Resolved: That the General Assembly will protect and preserve laws that foster equality among all persons, and be it further

Resolved: That taking the actions addressed in this resolution upholds the proud Vermont tradition of Freedom and Unity.

As I stated earlier, the vote in my committee was 11-0.

As a Vermonter impacted by this resolution stated:

The resolution tells us that you understand that fragile balance of tolerance and acceptance, that you understand the true fears that at times confronts us, and that you are committed to ensuring we do not stand alone.

I ask the body to support J.R.S. 18 to let our LGBTQ neighbors know that we stand with them, they are safe, and they are not alone.