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Fighting for Hate Crimes Protections in Harrisburg

Senator Ferlo comes outTed Martin, Executive Director of Equality PA, spoke out today at a press conference in Harrisburg demanding that LGBT people be included in hate crimes statutes. The event was chock full of supportive legislators including the prime sponsor of the hate crimes bill in the Senate, Sen. Jim Ferlo, who also decided to use today as his day to come out as gay. “I’m gay and that’s ok,” he proclaimed to a welcoming crowd in the Capitol Rotunda.

We hope this show of support will inspire the rest of the legislature to move on the hate crimes bills soon.

Here’s Ted Martin’s statement from the press conference today:

Frankly, I am saddened to be here today. This is not the first time that we have stood in front of our leaders in Harrisburg and asked for the simplest of recognition. It’s a shame that such a terrible incidence of violence had to happen to bring us together again to ask to be recognized and protected under the law equally.

But, here we are.

We are here today because hate crimes are different from other crime. Hate crimes like the one inflicted on a Philadelphia couple two weeks ago don’t just affect the victims of that crime. Hate crimes affect an entire community.

Imagine that you are gay teen somewhere in Central PA, still in the closet and trying to figure out where you belong in your world. Then one day on the news you see that a couple in Philadelphia—Philadelphia of all places—gets brutally beaten for ‘Walking While Gay.If this can happen to a couple in Philadelphia then who is going to stand up for you?

Who is standing up for every LGBT young person out there today feeling vulnerable and afraid to do something as simple as walk down the street and be who they are?

I hope that our elected leaders here in Harrisburg are standing up for us.

We need hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in Pennsylvania because the LGBT community is clearly being targeted, and we need to know that the people we elect to represent us in Harrisburg will not tolerate this kind of hate.

I am sad that we have to come together for such a terrible reason. Our hope at Equality PA is that some good can come out of this for the sake of the victims of this violent crime, and for the sake of every lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender person in Pennsylvania.

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