OMAHA, NE – Members of the LGBT Community experience more hate crimes than any other group. A study from the SPLC agrees with this assessment. The SPLC’s analysis of 14 years of hate crime data found that homosexuals, or those perceived to be gay, are more than twice as likely to be attacked in a violent hate crime as Jews or blacks; more than four times as likely as Muslims; and 14 times as likely as Latinos. The findings are based on FBI hate crime statistics from 1995 to 2008, the period for which there is complete data. The basic pattern also holds true in individual years.
We as a community must stand strong. We must build up our institutions to be prepared for such tragedy, because as the statistics show, the horror that happened to a lesbian sister in Lincoln, Nebraska, a gay couple in DC, many queers around the nation and the world is sadly far from the last. A vigil in Lincoln for Rainbow Jane saw an estimated 500 in attendance, a vigil in Omaha Thursday night saw thousands in attendance. Omaha City Councilman, Ben Gray, spoke at the vigil saying, “And we as a community, we as a city, we as a state, we as a nation need to stand up and say hate no longer lives in our country, our city and our state, and we will do whatever it takes to end the hatred in this country.” In contrast, no Nebraska officials have spoke on the incident being investigated as a hate crime. I hope it propels people to be more active in our LGBT organizations, from the social to the political and to the activist ones we have out there. We need more participation to keep our community moving forward, politically and socially. The Lincoln Mayor spoke out earlier in the week saying, ” Hate crimes are despicable and appalling to me and to all Lincoln residents… Lincoln strives to be a community that embraces tolerance and equality. We stand united with our gay and lesbian citizens in denouncing violence directed at any group.” Not surprisingly, none of Nebraska’s elected officials had anything to say about the tragedy.
I think its great Mayor Jim Suttle and Councilman Ben Gray spoke at the vigil. Certain people told me that politicians should not make any statements due to a possible negative impact on the community. I fail to see how Suttle and Gray have impacted us negatively in the bigger picture of things. They said what needed to be said, they gave support to a community that needed it, and they displayed to all that they are as affected by hate as much as we are. It is time to let the LGBT movement happen openly in Nebraska, instead of just behind closed doors. There is more to our beloved LGBTQ Community than just white lesbians and white gay men in the movement. We are also bisexual, transgender, queer and all colors of the racial spectrum!! We all have a voice, and we should never be afraid to use it!