July 18, 2018

Kaine Joins Markey To Introduce Bill To Ban Use Of Gay And Trans Panic Defense

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) to introduce the Gay and Trans Panic Defense Prohibition Act of 2018. Defendants have raised “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses against criminal charges like murder and assault. The defense blames the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity for the defendant’s violent reaction against them. The legislation would curtail the availability and effectiveness of the gay and trans panic defenses, a step that many in the legal community have been urging for years. Nearly 20 years ago, Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. One of Shepard’s killers raised the gay panic defense, arguing that Shepard’s unwanted sexual advances excused his violent acts. 

“Violently attacking or murdering someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is an abhorrent hate crime. This bill is an effort to address the legal loopholes that exist in our justice system that have allowed gay and trans panic defenses to continue,” Kaine said.

Several states have already taken legislative action to limit or prohibit the use of gay panic and trans panic defenses, including bans in California and Illinois. Similar legislation has been introduced in New Jersey, Washington, Rhode Island, New York, Georgia, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.

The legislation is endorsed by the American Bar Association, the National LGBT Bar Association, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Equality California, and the American Unity Fund.

The Senate legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT),  Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). The House bill was introduced by Representative Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) and is co-sponsored by Representatives Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Brian Higgins (D-NY), and David N. Cicilline (D-RI).

You can view the full text of the bill, HERE.

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