a quick reference, created with members of Congress and their staff in mind, to proposed Amendments to the United States Code in support of #GIJustice.
Hate Crimes Prevention Act amendments
The 2009 Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) was passed following public outcry over the 1998 murders of Matthew Shepherd, a 21 year old gay man, and James Byrd Jr., a black man. It is best for expanding hate crime prevention statutes by dropping requirements that victims be engaged in protected activity and it also added protections from crimes motivated by sex, gender, and disability. Lesser known are protections the HCPA added for servicemembers and their immediate family, which needlessly expire five years following their discharge. The following amendments are proposed;
18 U.S.C. § 1389(a):
“…on account of the military service of that serviceman or status of that individual as a United States serviceman”
“…on account of the actual or perceived military service of that serviceman or status of that individual as a United States Serviceman."
Like gender or color, military service is a “passable” characteristic that may only exist in the mind of a perpetrator; deterrence is ineffective without protections for persons falsely perceived to be members of a protected class.
18 U.S.C. § 1389(c)(3):
“the term ‘United States serviceman’ (A) means a member of the Armed Forces; and (B) includes a former member of the Armed Forces during the 5-year period beginning on the date of the discharge from the Armed Forces of that member of the Armed Forces.”
“the term ‘United States serviceman’— (A) means a member of the Armed Forces; and (B) includes a former member of the Armed Forces.”
Military service is a matter of public information, so servicemembers’ vulnerability to hate crimes extends indefinitely beyond the arbitrary threshold of five years after discharge. The five year restriction must fall for the HCPA to fulfill its purpose as it relates to members of the Armed Forces.
The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment and Assistance Act (VEVRAA) was signed into law in 1974 in response to the poor treatment of veterans returning from Southeast Asia. However, the law creates only limited prohibitions on discriminating against veterans. The law only applies to employers with $100,000 per year in government contracts or assistance, and it does not protect peacetime veterans without a service-connected disability. VEVRAA only applies to employment, and does not extend assistance to other typical civil rights arenas such as education, housing, and public accommodation. The following amendments are proposed;
38 U.S.C. § 101(2):
“The term ‘veteran’means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.”
“The term ‘veteran’means a person who served in the Armed Forces, as that term is defined in section 101(a)(4) of Title 10, and who was discharged or released therefrom.”
Affirmative Action and Equal Employment statutes are intended to protect entire characteristics, based upon simple membership, regardless of the character of particular members. Creating character requirements for veterans undermines the established purpose of statutes like VEVRAA. For this reason, it may be appropriate to move VEVRAA to a more appropriate Title that does not reduce this civil right an alienable “benefit.”
38 U.S.C. § 4212(a)(3)(A):
“The term ‘covered veteran’ means any of the following veterans: (i) Disabled veterans. (ii) Veterans who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized. (iii) Veterans who, while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces, participated in a United States military operation for which an Armed Forcesservice medal was awarded pursuant to Executive Order No. 12985 (61 Fed. Reg. 1209). (iv) Recently separated veterans.
“The term ‘covered veteran’ means any person who served in the Armed Forces, as defined by section 101(a)(4) of Title 10, and who was discharged or released therefrom.”
42 U.S.C. Chapter 45 - Fair Housing
PROPOSE AMENDING §§ 3604(a), 3605(a), & 3606 to add “military or veteran status” to lists of prohibited housing discrimination.
The Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) does not protect servicemembers and veterans from discrimination because no statute currently exists to do so. This amendment would change that and allow the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) to add servicemembers and veterans to their protected characteristics.