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.”
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.