Staff Editorial: NC must amend hate crime laws

On Nov. 9, Stephen White ‘94 left Chemistry, a gay nightclub in Greensboro, with Garry Gupton. The two then checked into the Battleground Inn.

When Stephen was found, he was unconscious and suffering from smoke inhalation and burns covering over half of his body, according to the News & Record.

The police have reported that Stephen was beaten with a telephone, television and other pieces of furniture and set on fire. Doctors, in an attempt to address his wounds, had to partially amputate both of his arms, but were unable to save him.

He died from his injuries on Nov. 15, and Gupton is now facing a first-degree murder charge.

While Gupton may face additional charges with regards to the fire, he is not being charged with a hate crime. Officials claim that there is no current indication that White’s murder was a hate crime

The crime could potentially fall under federal hate crime laws, however North Carolina’s hate crime laws exclude sexual orientation from protection entirely.

According to Partners Against Hate, North Carolina’s law “prohibits repeated harassement (sic), violence, physical harm to persons or property, or direct or indirect threats of physical harm to persons or property, motivated by race, religion, ethnicity, or gender.”

LGBT MAP reports that North Carolina is one of 20 states where hate crime laws do not address either sexual orientation or gender identity

This neglect on the part of North Carolina’ s legal system is inexcusable. It disregards the human rights of people of varying sexual orientations and refuses to acknowledge that violence against the queer community is problem.

The FBI reported that, in 2012 alone, 19.6 percent or over 1,000 of the 5,790 single-bias hate crimes in the United States resulted from sexual orientation bias, excluding unreported crimes.

In the eyes of North Carolina state law, violence against people of color, against people of faith, and against women cannot be not tolerated, yet the state ignores violence against people who are queer.

In recognition of all of victims of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation, North Carolina must change their hate crime laws. We cannot tolerate homophobic violence, and we cannot tolerate the exclusion of the queer community from our laws.

We will remember Stephen White, graduate of Guilford College’s Class of 1994 and veteran of the United States Army 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg and the Joint Security Force in Korea.

We hold Stephen’s friends and family in the light and invite you to do the same.