New Jersey To Consider Not Letting You Murder Someone Because You Were Scared Of Their Gay
Hey, you know what seems like a real bad defense for killing people? Being afraid of their gay. While it's not the most commonly invoked "self-defense" -- certainly not as common as "I had to kill that unarmed black teenager because I was afraid of his black," for example -- it has been used more than zero times, which is more than zero times too many.
That's why New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace has introduced a bill to preemptively bar anyone who might be thinking about having to kill some gays for being gay from using "But I was a-scared of his gay!" as an excuse.
“I want to make sure that we’re paying attention to things before they happen,” said Eustace, who is the Legislature’s second openly gay member.
Under New Jersey law, a defendant can be charged with manslaughter – a lesser charge than murder – if, among other things, the crime “is committed in the heat of passion resulting from a reasonable provocation.”
Eustace’s bill states that that a provocation can not be interpreted as reasonable if it is based on “the discovery of, knowledge about, or potential disclosure of the homicide victim’s actual or perceived gender identity or expression,” including “circumstances in which the victim made an unwanted, non-forcible romantic or sexual advance toward the actor, or if the victim and actor dated or had a romantic or sexual relationship.”
It seems like no reasonable person could argue that the simple act of Being Gay is provocation enough for someone of the homophobic persuasion to kill said Being Gay person, but NJ.com tracked down some "prominent defense attorney" named Joe Hayden, who is all too happy to play devil's advocate and explain why not letting people say "I was afraid of his gay!" is unfair to bigots or something:
“I do not believe [the defense] is widely used. But I am against any provision which would eliminate the ability of a defendant to argue that a murder charge should be considered as manslaughter because of the surrounding circumstances,” he said. “Juries are smart enough and have the common sense to differentiate between a reasonable, valid fear and a bogus defense. And we should not eliminate defenses when there’s no precedent for their misuse.”
Seems an awfully big leap of faith to assume juries are "smart" and "have the common sense" to know whether you killed that gay person for being gay because of good reasons or whether you killed that person for being gay for silly reasons, but maybe we're missing something. Or maybe this Joe Hayden feller should not serve on a jury.