Let's get our state to abolish the Gay/Trans Panic Defense

To the Editor:

In July 2018, Otoni Eliseau was staying in the basement of the Philadelphia Baptist Church in Framingham with his friend, Jackson Sugrue, who all of a sudden became violent. Jackson would beat him; he’d smash his head against a coffee table; he took away his phone, repeatedly yelling at him ‘I know you like me. I know you’re gay,’ and he would hold him captive there for four days without food or water. Once Eliseau escaped, Jackson was arrested on charges of committing a hate crime. Jackson’s attorney, Kenneth Gross, would later state of Eliseau in court : “He was trying to entice my client to do things that were against his nature.”

In the 1990s, Scott Amendure brought Jonathan Schmitz onto The Jenny Jones Show to reveal that he had a crush on him. Following the taping of the episode, Schmitz purchased a shotgun, went to Amendure’s Michigan home, and shot him twice in the chest, killing him. Schmitz’s attorneys later claimed in court that he was mentally ill and became emotionally unstable after being humiliated because of Amendure’s interest in him.

In 2014, California became the first state to ban this legal defense strategy, followed by Illinois (2017), Rhode Island (2018), Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, and New York (2019), New Jersey, D.C., Colorado, and Washington (2020). This year, Vermont and Virginia, the first southern state to do so, joined the lineup.

Massachusetts has yet to do so, but you can help change that by contacting your local representative and senator and urging them to support An Act to Support LGBTQ Victims (H.D. 2275/S.D. 1183), which will make Massachusetts the 13th state to ban this legal defense strategy and protect our LGBTQ friends, neighbors, and families.

Texas, Iowa, Georgia, Maryland, Nebraska, Florida, Oregon, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Minnesota all have similar waiting on possible passages.

Matthew J Shochat
Dorchester

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