Obama adds sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories
Dec 01, 2009
With the stroke of a pen, President Obama expanded federal hate-crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories, a goal for which gay-rights activists have been working for more than a decade.
Obama’s action on October 28 came after Congress approved the provision over the objections of some conservative religious groups, who viewed it as the first step down a slippery slope toward abridging religious speech against homosexuality.
Supporters of the bill—including many moderate and liberal Christian leaders—say it will make it easier for federal and local authorities to investigate violent crimes motivated by bias against the victim’s sexual orientation, racial background, gender and other characteristics.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).