Idaho’s Uniform LGBT Hate Crime Reporting, Not So Uniform

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com July 21, 2010

Idaho is not among 22 states reporting hate violence targeted toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program issued its annual report for 2009 last week.

Accurately quantifying anti-LGBT hate crime in Idaho is difficult in part because of a disconnect between federal, state and local reporting criteria. Additionally, LGBT people are less likely to report hate crime for fear of being outed or retribution, especially in conservative and rural areas. Human rights activists say there are also concerns about police harassment or indifference.

“Brutal attacks against actual or perceived LGBT people are hate crimes,” said activist Emilie Jackson-Edney. “But in the eyes of Idaho law, they’re just another assault or battery.”

Boise Police Department’s Victim Witness Coordinator, Janet Lawler told Citydesk that, “Boise police have a real proactive malicious harassment policy which is inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

However, Lawler explained that while a misdemeanor battery that includes a racial slur would be elevated to a felony, the same is not true if a sexual orientation or gender identity slur is used.

Pennie Blamires of the Idaho State Police Uniform Crime Reporting Unit told Citydesk there are 107 Idaho law enforcement agencies that report data to her unit. Her division documents crime and submits it to the FBI. But the ISP report doesn’t record gender identity.

Lawler said in Boise,“maybe three to four cases were investigated over the last year because of sexual orientation.”

In a Law and Order edition of Catch 22, the federal government is required to track crime data on sexual orientation and gender Identity from the states, but they do not require states to track it.

Ironically, the front page of the 2009 Idaho Uniform Crime report motto reads: “You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure.”

New Report on LGBT Hate Crimes in America

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com July 13, 2010

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs is issuing its annual report today (July 13) on hate violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

U.S. stats from 2009 reflect a 12 percent decline in the number of survivors/victims of hate violence with overall reported incidents down 7 percent since 2008. NCAVP reports the drop is more likely due to less enforcement because of funding cuts than an actual decline in violence.

Of 2009 incidents, 40 percent were by strangers, 12 percent by employers and co-workers and 6 percent by law enforcement officers, including unjustified arrest and entrapment.

The report also lists 22 murders, (the second-highest rate in 10 years. Additionally, 79 percent of incidents were against people of color and 50 percent of victims were transgender women. More than half of all murders took place during Pride season—May, June, July—when LGBT people are more visible.

A Harvard Public Health study stated that LGB people are 1.5-2 times more likely to be targets of violence than the general population.

Idaho is one of 14 states lacking hate crime protections for LGBT people. The Uniform Crime Reporting for 2009, published annually by the Idaho State Police, reports just four incidents of LGB hate crimes in the Gem State.

“I don’t believe these numbers accurately represent the number of LGBT hate crimes in Idaho,” said ACLU of Idaho Legislative Director, Hannah Brass. “Research shows that hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation are under reported, and this is far more likely to be true here in Idaho where state law does not recognize hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Idaho AG’s Office Reacts to DOMA Ruling from Federal Judge

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com July 9, 2010

U.S District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled Thursday that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.

Enacted in 1996 DOMA defines “marriage” and “spouse,” for purposes of federal law, to include only the union of one man and one woman.

The Massachusetts plaintiffs, seven same-sex couples and three widowers, claimed that because of DOMA, their families were denied critically important rights and protections that interfered with the state’s authority to regulate marriage.

Massachusetts Attorney General Spokeswoman, Amie Breton, told Boise Weekly the decision applies only to Massachusetts and any appeals would be up to the Obama administration.

“Because there was no stay in the law suit,” said Breton, “starting today immediately effective same-sex wedded couples in Massachusetts are eligible for federal benefits. That means this decision is binding for the federal agencies.”

For states like Idaho with constitutional bans, the Massachusetts decision appears to have no bearing.

Idaho Attorney General spokesperson, Bob Cooper said his office has not yet seen the decision but based on news accounts said:
“On its face it would appear this is not going to have any impact on the state of the law in Idaho. The decision is not inconsistent with the Idaho constitutional provision in which the state has defined marriage. From that perspective, it wouldn’t matter what a particular state’s definition of marriage is this ruling would uphold the authority of the states to define marriage.”

Tauro stated: “There are at least, a total of 1,138 federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code in which marital status is a factor.”

Same-sex couples legally married or not, except in Massachusetts, are denied the right to file joint tax returns, claim Social Security survivor benefits, take family medical leave, as well as take gift and estate tax exemptions, have joint workplace health care and collect a spouse’s retirement.

“The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and, in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid,” wrote Judge Tauro.

Will Prop. 8 Decision Affect Idaho LGBT Community?

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com June 30, 2010

Both civil rights advocates and religious conservatives are waiting in anticipation of Federal Chief District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision in California’s Proposition 8 landmark Perry v. Schwarzenegger case.

Filed over a year ago, the January trial challenged the constitutionality of the voter-initiative that banned same-sex marriage by just 52 percent of the popular vote in the November 2008 election.

Either way Walker decides, it’s likely to spark outrage. Should the decision go the way of the plaintiffs and Prop. 8 is overturned, many wonder how that will affect states like Idaho with constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. The consensus is there is likely to be a long court battle before we have a final answer.

Idaho Attorney General’s office spokesperson, Bob Cooper said,”It’s anticipated that it will be appealed both to the Ninth Circuit and to the Supreme Court regardless of which way it goes, so it’s really impossible to speculate on what impact, if any, it would have on Idaho. It’s going to depend on where it becomes a question of settled law and what the decision is.



ACLU of Idaho executive director, Monica Hopkins concurred. “It is difficult to speculate on these legal issues. However if Prop 8 is struck down we may see the issue before the Supreme Court. Until the legal question is solved by the courts we have no way of knowing how this may affect the Idaho constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.”

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the non-profit organization funding the plaintiffs and assembled the legal team lead by Theodore Olson and David Boies.

Spokesperson Robb Yusef told BW, “We are eagerly waiting to see how the court will rule and trust the court will make the right decision. Either way the court rules the other side will appeal this to the circuit court and then we expect this to be appealed to the Supreme Court. We have committed to take this case all the way because we believe that peoples fundamental rights need to be guaranteed once and for all.”



The California Supreme Court ruled May 15, 2008, in a 4-3 decision that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Marriage license for gays and lesbians began being issued June 1, 2008. Until the passage of Prop 8, 18,000 same-sex couples have been legally married. Thus far, efforts to invalidate those marriages have been unsuccessful and the outcome of this case will not affect them.

Boise Weekly’s requests for comment from Protect Marriage, the organization leading the Yes on Prop. 8 campaign, have not been returned.

Protect Marriage received $40 million in donations from all over the county. Of that sum, $22 million was from members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. At least $419,000 came from Idahoans, with the largest donation of $100,000 coming from Belinda VanderSloot, the wife of Idaho Falls conservative millionaire and Melaleuca CEO Frank L. VanderSloot.

‘Engaged’ couples sought for research project

This call for participants for this study (below) includes female couples, male couples, and different-sex couples. The researchers are interested in similarities and differences by couples’ gender composition and sexual orientation.

The results of the study are intended to be published in a journal of psychology. Participants of the study as well as As I See It will be notified the results of the study.

For those who qualify and are interested in participating, I have verified all the information, it is legitimate.

Engaged volunteers needed!

I am looking for volunteers for a study of attitudes towards marriage and parenthood among engaged couples. The study consists of a 25-30 minute online survey. To qualify for the study, you must be 20-35 years old, live in the U.S., and plan to marry or have a commitment ceremony within the next 365 days. You and your romantic partner must not have children, and this must be the first marriage for both of you.

You can:

-Help a doctoral candidate;
-Increase the pool of scientific knowledge;
-Support research on marriage and families; and
-Spend some time thinking about your relationship!

I am working with Dr. Charlotte J. Patterson, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. This study has been approved by the University of Virginia Institutional Review Board #2009025800.

If you and/or your romantic partner are interested in participating or want further information, please email me at survey.couples@gmail.com. I will send you a link that you can use to access the study.

Thanks!

Cristina Reitz-Krueger
Doctoral Student
University of Virginia
434-243-8558
survey.couples@gmail.com

Thank the Idaho media for Bryan Fischer’s national celebrity

COMMENTARY
By Jody May-Chang ©2010

Bryan Fischer AFA FRC ActioinBryan Fischer is well-known in Idaho. To some he is a hero of “family values,” but to many he is a living, breathing example of what is wrong with America. Fischer is the pitchman for contempt and the poster boy for intolerance. The man’s obsession with and hatred of homosexuals is well documented, but recently he has been gaining national attention.

Fischer’s visceral scorn for gays was rarely, if ever, challenged by the Idaho news media that ran to him for a quote as if he was the anointed representative of all that is Christian in Idaho. He was essentially considered a “balanced” voice to oppose gays in Idaho.

Fischer is now climbing into the national spotlight to brand homosexuals and others who don’t fit into his narrow view of the world as threats that should be locked up or perhaps even executed. This past year, he was hoisted into the national spotlight when he was included in MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann’s Worst Person segment for his xenophobic rant that called on banning Muslims from the serving in the U.S. military following the Fort Hood tragedy.

More recently Fischer has been calling for the national criminalization of homosexuality, comparing gays to everything from IV drug users to murderers. This fact was brought out by Fox News’s Alan Colmes who called out Bryan Fischer on is daily radio show.

Colmes did what no reporter or editor in Idaho had the common sense, guts, or journalistic integrity to do when it came to Bryan Fischer – Colmes held him accountable for his words and pressed him with hard questions! Continue reading

Alan Colmes corners Bryan Fischer for ‘weaseling out’

Alan Colmes

Alan Colmes

Alan Colmes is my latest hero! On his radio show last Wednesday, he called out Bryan Fischer, clearly demonstrating what many of us here in Idaho have known all along, that if ever put on the spot and pressed with direct questions Fischer would emerge as the “weasel” that Colmes exposed him to be.

Fischer was allowed to cut his teeth here with the assistance of a spineless media that ran to Fischer time and time again to get the sound bite and calling it balanced reporting. The Idaho news media NEVER asked any hard questions on any positions he took or outrageous statements he made.

It is an utter joy to listen to Fischer as he squirms in the hot seat while Colmes relentlessly presses him. You can almost hear the beads of sweat pour down Fischer’s face as he unsuccessfully tries to defend the indefensible.

If only Idaho media had done their job as Colmes did Wednesday, perhaps Fischer would not be enjoying his national platform now.

Colmes should be applauded for exposing Fischer for the miserable fraud that he is to a national audience.

This interview segment should be played on an endless loop to the Idaho media on what it means to be a journalist!

Fox 12 interviews May-Chang on Caldwell City Council decision

KTRV Fox 12's Mike Vogel

KTRV Fox 12 reporter Mike Vogel

Fox 12 KTRV’s Mike Vogel interviewed me this evening on on Mondays Caldwell City Council’s decision to include Sexual Orientation in the city’s employment practices. The council voted 6-0 to include “sexual orientation” in the city’s equal employment opportunity policy as a characteristic that can not be used to discriminate in employment practices.

Check out Fox Channel 12 9pm and 10pm broadcasts tonight.