Opinion

Attack on gay couple spotlights law’s deficiency

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Allegations last week that a Marshall University football player attacked two gay men while they were standing at a street corner in downtown Huntington has brought a heap of attention to the university, the city and West Virginia – none of it welcome.

The alleged incident itself has been roundly condemned, as it should be, by both university and city officials. The alleged attacker, Steward Butler, 23, of Lakeland, Fla., was arraigned on two misdemeanor counts of battery after turning himself in to city police last Wednesday. He faces the possibility of a fine and up to a year in jail if convicted.

If the allegations against Butler are true, there is little doubt that the attack was motivated by the sexual orientation of the two victims. According to criminal complaints, Butler was in a vehicle passing by the corner of 5th Avenue and 9th Street when he noticed the two men kissing.

Police say Butler exited the vehicle, shouted derogatory words toward both men related to their sexual orientation and then struck the face of both victims with a closed fist.

Under federal law and in many states, such an attack would be considered a hate crime. But not in West Virginia…

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