Monday, January 02, 2006

Anti-gay lawsuit moves forward in Philadelphia

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According to an article published by Philadelphia Gay News, a lawsuit brought by the anti-gay Repent America against Pennsylvania's hate crimes law will move forward after a three-judge Commonwealth Court panel declined a request made by the defendants to drop the suit. The defendants named in the suit by Repent America include Gov. Ed Rendell, House Speaker John M. Perzel (R-Philadelphia), Senate President Pro Tem Robert C. Jubelirer (R-Bedford County), and Commonwealth Secretary Pedro A. Cortes. The lawsuit was filed in April 2005 after Repent America members were arrested and charged with hate crimes after protesting at the OutFest block party. According to the article:
Seven members of Repent America filed a legal challenge to the amendment in April 2005, six months after they were arrested at the OutFest block party, and charged with hate crimes against sexual and gender minorities. The state’s Ethnic Intimidation Act was amended in December 2002 to include protections for the categories of ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity. However, Repent America members want that amendment nullified, claiming it was enacted in an unconstitutional manner.
Repent America claims that "lawmakers failed to hold adequate public hearings on the hate-crimes law amendment, and misled the public by including the amendment in the Ethnic Intimidation Act." Michael Marcavage, leader of Repent America, also claimed hate crimes laws are not necessary as he applauded the Commonwealth Court's decision:
“There is a plethora of laws to deal with those who act violently aganist anyone,” Marcavage told PGN. “We don’t want thought-police going out and charging people with hate crimes just because they offended somebody based on their quote-unquote sexual orientation.”
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