Two ugly attacks on gay men, one fatal, have occurred in Fort Lauderdale in the last week.
Melbourne Brunner, the man I posted about yesterday who was brutally beaten after a late night meal outside a gay-friendly diner on Fort Lauderdale's Las Olas Blvd, thinks homophobic Mayor Jim Naugle bears some of the responsibility.Naugle has been publicly demonizing gays for months. In July, Naugle proposed installing a timed, $250,000 robotic toilet in Fort Lauderdale public restrooms. Naugle, who claims he uses the word "homosexuals" to describe gay men rather than "gay" because gay people "are unhappy," has said that an added plus to having the toilets is that they would keep gay people from using the facilities. Last August, Naugle stood with right-wing religious leaders and held a news conference where the Rev. O'Neal Dozier said "We want the homosexual community to know that we love them and that God loves them also. But God hates the act of homosexuality."
Should it be any surprise that a city who's mayor has received national attention for his blatant homophobia, encouraging it in city policy, would also be a city where there's a hate-crimes eruption against glbt people? It's not a surprise at all: the hatred bubbling at the surface finally spilled over, with all the people riled up by a community disparaging gay people. Maybe we can't stop all murders from people who are unhinged, but there are certainly thousands of other hate crimes that happen every year that could be stopped - people who are beaten up and bullied for being gay, people who have their property targeted and vandalized and, yes, even people who are murdered for being gay, such as when an act of bullying goes wrong.
These are all crimes that are meant to target an entire community. A hate crimes law could help reduce all of them, as it has in the past for other minority and targeted communities that enjoy hate crimes protection. No minority or community should be targeted for a crime simply because they're a member of that community, and when it happens, those who commit the crime need to serve a time that's reflective of the fear they tried to instill on the entire community that they targeted.