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Court says football player accused of gay attack didn’t commit hate crime

Gays not protected by W.V. hate crimes law.

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If you are a gay man who kisses his boyfriend in public, the West Virginia Supreme Court says you are not protected by hate crimes laws.
Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

When Marshall Univ. running back Steward Butler was arrested for allegedly beating two men who were kissing in public, prosecutors slapped him with a violation of hate-crimes legislation.

Now the West Virginia Supreme Court has said there was no such violation. By a vote of 3-2, the court decided that LGBT people are not protected by hate-crimes laws.

The allegations against Butler are, if accurate, clearly point to a crime motivated by hate. He allegedly screamed homophobic slurs at the couple before he physically attacked them. If that’s not a hate crime, I don’t know what is.

But because “sexual orientation” isn’t clearly listed in the current hate-crimes legislation — at the state or Federal level — as protected, the court said gays aren’t protected. Various courts have held that the inclusion of protections based on “sex” does protect LGBT people (since, you know, Butler did allegedly attack the men because of their sex).

While it’s another slap in the face of the LGBT community by another anti-LGBT institution (I dare you to argue the W.V. Supreme Court is anything but), the narrow nature of the decision, at 3-2, gives hope.