89.1 WEMU

GOP Lawmaker Says He's Changed His Mind On Making LGBT Attacks A Hate Crime

Jul 15, 2016

Michigan Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge)
Credit Courtesy Photo / senatorrickjones.com

Legislation to make attacks on LGBT people a hate crime in Michigan was rolled out Wednesday with the support of at least two Republican state lawmakers. 


Republican state Senator Rick Jones says he was on the other side of the issue for a long time because he didn’t think violence against LGBT people was a serious problem.  Jones says he changed his mind following the Orlando, Florida gay nightclub killings, as well as a recent string of robberies and beatings that targeted gay men in Lansing.  “I decided I don’t want an America where we have a crazed individual who is inspired by ISIS shooting 50 people because they are gay,” he said.  “I decided I didn’t want an America where eight to 12 men attacked in Lansing because they are gay.”  

State Senator Tory Rocca (R-Sterling Heights) is the other Republican to sign on to support the bill. 

With the Senate Republicans’ 27-10 majority, Democrats acknowledge the still have a long way to go to get enough votes to expand Michigan’s hate crime law to include attacks on LGBT people.  State Senator Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing) says that will take time.  “I’ve always believed that the main thing that’s caused hearts and minds to change on this issue and when it comes to gay rights in general is knowing someone,” he said. 

Jones, a former sheriff, says he’d also like the hate crime law to cover attacks on police officers.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org