Justice in the court for marginalized groups
MARYLAND – Lawmakers are close to passing more protections for marginalized communities. Senate Bill 46 would get rid of something called the panic defense.
For example, if some finds out their partner turns out to be transgender, if they became angry and hurt them or worse, kill them, as it stands now they could use the panic defense as a way to get their sentence reduced. However, this legislation which is close to being finalized, will make sure this can’t happen anymore. “This measure is a really important civil rights provision to be able to protect our entire community recognize we in Maryland here want to be an inclusive state,” says the bill sponsor, Senator Clarence Lam.
Maryland lawmakers unanimously passed their versions of the bills in the both the House and Senate. Now they’ve been sent to opposite chambers for more review. Currently, panic defense can be used as a defense in the court of law.
Essentially someone could kill someone because of their identifier whether that be some thing like their race, gender, or sexual orientation. If that defense holds up, they could have their sentence reduced. However, some community activists are surprised that this has gone so long without being addressed. “What message does that send to black and brown communities, to LGBTQ communities, what does that say,” says Richard Potter, President of the Talbot county chapter of the NAACP.
Although this will not prevent hate crimes, many say it shows minorities and marginalized groups, they will receive some sort of justice. “It doesn’t do anything to stop this from happening, but it does do something to value the lives of LGBTQ Marylanders and side with them legally,” says legislative outreach coordinator with ACLU of Maryland, Jamie Grace Alexander. Senator Lam adds, “These are basic civil rights and human rights, this is actually at a point where it’s not controversial anymore and a positive reflection of our community.”
Senator Addie Eckardt also tells 47 ABC, “This bill closes a loophole and has bipartisan support. Community activists and lawmakers agree that it’s time for issues such as these, to be addressed.
Senate bill 46 was referred to the Rules and Executive Nominations committee for further evaluation.