By Joshua Albert
Today, Councilman Jim Kenney explained his decision to send a letter to U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger calling on the Department of Justice to partner with local authorities to bring federal charges against the alleged people involved in last weeks gay bashing incident. The altercation left one person with a wired jaw for the next two months. Councilman Kenney is rumored to be a contender in the 2015 Mayoral race.
Today, Victor Fiorllio from Philly Mag explained why you why that might be necessary:
In 2002, sexual orientation and gender identity were added to the Pennsylvania Constitution as protected classes under the state’s ethnic intimidation law, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court deemed that addition unconstitutional in 2008 after extreme-right Philly-based activist Michael Marcavage of Repent America filed suit against then-Governor Ed Rendell and others. (Marcavage’s appellate brief to the PA Supreme Court appears below.)These days, the law includes “malicious intention toward the race, color, religion or national origin,” but there’s no coverage if you are attacked for being gay.
During Kenney’s address to City Council members this morning he made a powerful statement:
“If you’re a homophobe or racist, and you’re from the suburb or somewhere else outside of the city, we really don’t want you to come here. We don’t want you to use our restaurants, we don’t want you to walk our streets, we don’t want you to enjoy our city life. We can live with out.”
You can see the full video here.
Also today, State Representative Brian Sims said he would bring the victims of the attack to help usher through new legislation regarding hate crimes, according to Philly Mag:
“One of the things I’ve learned is that sometimes it takes a horribly negative experience to get people out of their seats, for them to be active and engaged,” says State Representative Brian Sims of his colleagues in Harrisburg. “It’s not necessarily because they’re opposed but because they aren’t aware of the need. So we are going to be sure to utilize this horrible event to make sure that they hear about it. I’m going to be bringing two people with me who will be able to tell them all about it.”