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Lawmakers Give First Approval to Include Gender Identity in Hate Crime Laws

February 16th, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

A crime against someone simply because of their gender, or the gender to which they identify could soon carry enhanced penalties.

Legislation broadening Florida’s hate crime law took a step toward inclusiveness Tuesday after the testimony of a grieving parent.

21-year-old Maura Binkley was gunned down at a Tallahassee yoga studio in November 2018.

Her father Jeff has been searching for answers ever since.

Jeff Binkley could barely speak to a legislative committee as it considered broadening hate crimes to include gender or gender identity.

Maura and six others were shot by Scott Paul Beierle, a self-described misogynist, who blamed women for his self-imposed celibacy.

“The last two FBI hate crimes reports show a cumulative increase of violent hate crimes of over 30 percent,” said Binkley.

Maura’s dad wasn’t alone.

Others came to share being attacked because of who they are.

“I face discrimination on a daily basis as I walk out of my door,” said victim Janel Diaz.

When it comes to hate crimes, prosecutors first have to prove their was a crime, then they have to prove the hate element as well.

Hate crimes elevate penalties one step up, carrying greater fines or jail time.

Keith Perry was one of two no votes.

He crimes should be treated the same regardless of motive.

“You kind of grieve with these people who have had things happen to them, but I don’t want to have a system where one person gets specialized treatment. I don’t think that’s fair,” said Perry.


But Maura’s father said the designation will help collect data.

“If you are going to address any evil, including hatred, you have to first call it by its name,” said Binkley.

The bill still faces an uphill battle over doubts that adding hate crime designations do much to curb overall crime.

The legislation also includes the disabled, so if someone commits a crime simply because someone is in a wheel chair, penalties would be enhanced.

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