No Hate Crime Charges In Cross Burning At Gay Home
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
July 7, 2006 - 9:00 pm ET
(Athens, Tennessee) FBI investigators probing a cross burning in front of the home of a gay couple said Friday that even if the people responsible are caught they cannot be prosecuted under federal law.
The flaming cross was discovered by Brandon Waters on his front lawn earlier this week. (story)
Waters said that the cross was about 7 feet tall and a hate message bearing homophobic epithets was found nearby.
He said he has no doubt that the cross burning was a hate message, targeting him because he is gay.
Meigs County Sheriff's Department called in the FBI along with state police to investigate.
The federal officers said that under federal hate crime law there is no provision for crimes against gays, lesbians or the transgendered.
Legislation that would have included crimes against gays and lesbians in federal hate crime laws was been dropped in the Senate in May. (story)
A House version of the hate crime bill passed the House earlier this year.
The bill would have allowed the Department of Justice to assist local authorities in investigating and prosecuting cases in which violence occurs.
Extending hate crimes law to include members of the LGBT community is endorsed by more than 175 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organizations, including: the National Sheriffs' Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.