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One simple step we must take to improve the justice system

Across Oregon and this country, members of the LGBTQ+ community live in fear of violence - simply for being who they are. Tragically, 2020 was the deadliest and most violent year on record for the trans and non-binary community.

Currently, Oregon law allows criminals to defend heinous crimes by claiming that their fears of the victim's sexual or gender expression provoked violence.

This legal tactic – the so-called "Panic Defense" – is nothing more than a legalized and offensive allowance of homophobia and transphobia. The defense depends on the twisted belief that people deserve to be abused for who they are.

The Panic Defense defies decency and mangles the very idea of justice. We can't allow it in Oregon's courtrooms. It's time to end the LGBTQ+ panic defense and ensure the right of every Oregonian to express themselves and live their lives freely.

I'm proud to work alongside Basic Rights Oregon to ensure that Oregon becomes the 12th state to ban this outrageous tactic and protect our LGBTQ+ community.

We had a public hearing on Senate Bill 704 in the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning - I encourage you to watch my testimony (starting at 05:52) and listen to other advocates explain why we must get rid of the LGBTQ+ panic defense. Our legal system must protect victims, not blame them.

Onward to justice,


Posted on March 4, 2021.