How Do You Define Hate?
BY Trudy Ring
January 08 2013 9:00 AM ET
Passage of an LGBT-inclusive federal hate crimes law was a highlight of President Obama’s first term. But a recent case indicates it’s still a challenge to prosecute hate crimes and win convictions.
Mallory Owens was beaten Thanksgiving Day at the Mobile, Ala., home of her girlfriend, Ally Hawkins, suffering multiple skull fractures. Local prosecutors charged Travis Hawkins Jr., Ally’s brother, with second-degree assault; he has pleaded not guilty. Owens has made conflicting statements about the case and stopped short of calling the attack a hate crime.
Upon release from the hospital, Owens returned to the Hawkins home, where Travis Hawkins Sr. held a press conference to say his son had no anti-lesbian bias. Ally Hawkins has said her brother was enraged because she and Owens had used drugs and engaged in prostitution. Owens later released a statement saying she felt threatened by the Hawkins family and that the attack could be a bias crime. But then she told a Mobile TV station that most of the statement, written by her attorney, was untrue. Her attorney withdrew from the case, and Owens’s family told the media they believe Ally Hawkins is controlling her.
The facts may finally come out in court. Alabama’s hate-crimes law does not cover attacks motivated by sexual orientation, so a hate-crime charge would have to be brought by federal authorities. The U.S. Justice Department and FBI are investigating to see if the attack qualifies. Owens’s family and activists say the second-degree assault charge is insufficient and should instead be attempted murder.
- Christian Woman Records Herself Losing it Over Marriage Equality, Gets Remixed
- The Top 175 Essential Films of All Time for LGBT Viewers
- Gay Wedding Advice for Gays and Straights
- Ted Cruz and the Fallout for Fire Island
- Amber Heard: 'I Don't Want to Have to Deny My Sexuality in Order to Be Me'
- PHOTOS: Toronto Shows Off Its Pride