can be given for a crime if prosecutors prove a victim was
targeted for being identified with one of those categories.
Although legislators have introduced bills to add
sexual orientation to the law in both houses of the legis
lature, the issue has lost momentum in recent years. The
“Matthew Shepard Memorial Act” fell just 10 votes short
of passing in the 1999-2000 session. But subsequent rein
troductions of the bill have not made it out of committee.
“Introducing certain bills is about making judg
ment calls on whether those bills are appropriate for that
year and if they can pass,” said Rep. Verla Insko, D-Or-
ange, who co-sponsored the House version of the bill
in 1999. “We often consult with Equality North Caro
lina and take their lead on issues to a certain extent.”
But Equality North Carolina, the states larg
est advocacy organization for securing the rights of the
states LGBT citizens, is focused on lobbying other issues
because previous hate crime bills have been unsuccessful,
said Ian Palmquist, executive director of the organization.
“Its an issue we continue to work on but think
other issues will likely see movement before those chang
es are made to the bill,” Palmquist said. No bill to amend
the state hate crime law has been introduced this session.
Hate crime legislation regarding sexual orienta
tion often sparks heated debate because opponents of such
laws say that they create “special laws for special people”
when the law is supposed to be neutral, Shepard said.
But as the LGBT community becomes more
of a mainstream presence in society, however, Insko said
that amending the hate crime law to include sexual ori
entation will become less of a “hot button.” Bills re
garding civil rights and protection for gays and lesbians
have less opposition compared to years past, Insko said.
Judy Shepard shared that view in her presenta
tion, saying that increased visibility will help future law-
otakers to establish understanding for gays and lesbians, re
sulting in more legal protection for the LGBT community.
“What’s happening in our state legislatures is the same
thing happening in Congress in Washington,” Shepard said.
Current leaders are from a generation brought up to think
that everything gay was just the worst.... But when people of a
younger age are elected and in office these things will be gone.”
Nationally, the legal protections are much the same
^ in North Carolina . Federal hate crime laws do not in
clude sexual orientation as a category for consideration, al
though the “Federal Hate Crime Statistics Act” does collect
tfata on crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation.
When Shepard finished speaking, the au-
tlience stood to applaud her. And many lin-
§cred in the lobby afterward to discuss her message.
“North Carolina lags so far behind with its hate
crimes legislation and I believe that Shepard coming to speak
^akes the need for expanded hate crime legislation more tan-
gible and undeniable,” said Jason Wang, a UNC-CH senior
''^ho attended the event.
Why are you an ally?
'Tthink that everyone is responsible for the
J. choices that thy make in life. Moreover,
people can not change the way thy feel about
others. The fact that there are people who
are UBGTQ adds to the diversity in the
world and more specifically on our campus.
We must learn to accept people for who thy
I Randi Gordn, First Year different
religions, cultures and ways of thinking, so
we should he openminded towards people of
different sexual orientations.
Tm an ally because I think it deliv-
J.ers a message to heterosexuals that
discrimination against someone who has
a different sexual orientation is wrong
and unacceptable. I think it also shows
other heterosexuals that it is ok to inter-
I Chelsea Piekett, First-Year different sexual
orientations, whatever thy may be.
JTm an ally because I want to reinforce
J. the idea that LJBGTQpeople aren't
diseased, thy're people, and thy deserve
to be treated with the same courtey and
respect that straight people are. Some
people say it's unnatural for a person
to be LBGTQ, but 1 can't really see
a good reason for someone to fake be
ing gcy-there's so much discrimination,
hatred, embarrassment, and alienation
from judgmental friends & family. If
you imagine yourself reversing your
sexual orientation, the thought doesn't
settle well in your brain. I'm an ally
because I don't want LGBTQ people
to be pressured ly society to change who
thy are to fit in with the majority on
such a personal matter, tions, whatever
thy may be.
7 don't think people should be discrimi
nated against, I think it's ok to disagree
with people, but not discriminate, personally
I don't see anything wrong with being LG-
yrialy Toftas, First-Year
Chris Calascione, First-Year