Elizabeth Edwards Rips Bush on Hate Crimes Inaction

In a speech on Saturday in San Francisco, Elizabeth Edwards made note of the 4th of July holiday homophobic murder of Satendar Singh in Sacramento, slamming George W. Bush on his inaction on federal hate crimes legislation.

Elizabeth_edwardsSaid Edwards: “This president talks a lot about good and evil and the need to seek out evil doers. But he doesn’t seem to recognize the evil in hate crimes. The right to live without the fear of being murdered for whom we love is not a special right. We were in fact reminded again while we share the lingering memory of a fence post in Laramie, the sorrow of that image is now joined by a park at Lake Natoma in Sacramento. And Matthew Shepard is joined by Satendar Singh as a martyr in that fight for justice.”

Singh was attacked while picknicking with friends after a group of Russian men began taunting him with racist and homophobic slurs. The men then punched Singh, knocking him to the ground where his head began bleeding. Singh died of head trauma injuries four days later. He was a Fijian immigrant and had been living in the U.S. for seven years after being awarded a green card.

Edwards also told those attending her speech, which was sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, that if elected, her husband John Edwards “would help repeal more than a thousand laws that discriminate against same-sex couples.”

This is Elizabeth Edwards’ second major speech to gay groups in recent month. In the first, she announced that she supports full marriage rights for same-sex couples, an opinion which differs from that of her candidate husband, who supports civil unions.

Elizabeth Edwards decries beating death of Sacramento man [ap via san jose mercury news]

You may have missed…
Elizabeth Edwards Declares Support for Gay Marriage [tr]
John Edwards on Wife’s Gay Marriage Position: “She Actually Says What She Thinks” [tr]
Elizabeth Edwards to Ann Coulter: Stop the Personal Attacks [tr]
Coulter’s Hate Speech a Financial Windfall for Edwards Campaign [tr]


  1. Stephen says

    The death of this individual is tragic and reprehensible.

    There currently are state and federal laws that invoke severe penalties (life in prison, death) to murderers, of which there can be no doubt, a murder occurred here. In addition, a judge has tremendous leeway in assigning the utmost severity to the convicted. a Such punishment needs to be carried out as swiftly as possible.

    There is no need to write a hate crimes bill into law. Penalties currently applicable will serve in this case, as in others.

  2. Brian says

    “Edwards also told those attending her speech, which was sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, that if elected, her husband John Edwards ‘would help repeal more than a thousand laws that discriminate against same-sex couples.'”

    I like Elizabeth and John Edwards. I do. But as much as I appreciate her support, I really would much rather hear this kind of thing from him. At the end of the day, it’s John who’s gonna have to pony up and make this happen, not Elizabeth.

    Stephen makes an argument I’ve heard before. I think motivation has always been a valid consideration when prosecuting crime, otherwise why would we have various degrees of severity, etc. I support hate crimes legislation, and hope that our new Democratic president will too.

  3. RB says

    Robert Shrum, the veteran Democratic strategist who worked on John Edwards’s 1998 Senate campaign in North Carolina, does not remember his onetime client very fondly. In his new memoir, “No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner,” Shrum recalls asking Edwards at the outset of that campaign, “What is your position, Mr. Edwards, on gay rights?”

    “I’m not comfortable around those people,” Edwards replied, according to Shrum. He writes that the candidate’s wife, Elizabeth, told him: “John, you know that’s wrong.”

    Apparently Edwards has now “evolved” like Hillary on gay issues?! Really, why do so many of us place blind faith in this party? As I have always said, one party is no worse than the other on LGBT issues, real issues! The only difference is that so many dems tell us what we want to hear and then do nothing about it once elected. It would be my guess that Edwards would be just as progressive as Clinton.

  4. nycredneck says

    Wow, so apparently RB, we can’t get any new allies. Unless you’ve always been ok with gay people your whole life, you’re obviously calculating. Why is it not acceptable to grow as a person or politician. FACE IT, some people were raised to not like gay people. If you shun all of those who are trying to overcome their trained prejudices, we will get no where.

    Oh, and stephen, sit down and shut up. Motivation is a part of jurisprudence. It’s not a thought crime — that’s a nice use of religious right talking points though, good for you. If you don’t understand that hate crime legislation sends a societal message that it is not ok to violently attack people because of what you think they are, or that the access to federal resources such laws provide makes a huge difference, then you’re just spewing conservative bullshit about “special rights.”

  5. Jake says

    Elizabeth Edwards can stand up and make as many speeches as she likes. She wouldn’t be the one to sign bills into law. I’m not really interested in her feel good, warm fuzzies toward the gay community. Her husband needs to be saying these things before I start investing in his campaign and embrace his ideals.

    John Edwards is actually more forthcoming in his silence on the issue than any other candidate to date. It speaks volumes.

  6. Stephen says

    When you (or anyone else) can definitively, without doubt, read the mind of what someone else is thinking before engaging in a criminal act, then I would agree and support a hate crime specific law. Which of us has THAT crystal ball?

    Until then, there are applicable laws for punishing offenders.

  7. Rey says

    Stephen, you are far off base.

    Do you consider it “reading minds” when a person is convicted of murder in the 1st degree? How about the 2nd degree? How about manslaughter? Now what do you think of a terrorist enhancement to a murder charge? Is that wrong?

    All of these little people who cry out “thought crime!” are just being obtuse on purpose. They know full well that crimes – especially where people are killed – have myriad considerations to make. A hate crime enhancement is valid and it doesn’t take a Deanna Troi to determine if a person meant to send a message of fear to a community of people when he kills a gay man.

  8. KevinVT says

    Hate crimes are not simple murders, and not only because of motivation.

    Hate crimes victims are not just murdered: they are torn to shreds, stabbed dozens of times, dragged behind trucks, tied to fences, burnt alive. The crime itself is different.

    Because they target a class of people, hate crimes work like terrorism to control those classes of people. Victims are random, except for the fact that they are gay or black or (fill in the blank). A series of hate crimes can lead members of a group to fear for their lives or move. If we prosecute terrorism differently, why not hate crimes?

    Another problem is that because of the victims’ status these crimes are often NOT prosecuted to the full extent of the law by local or state authorities. A serial killer of gay men in Texas may not get the same attention as a serial killer of suburban housewives. The inequality has been documented.

    Hate crimes laws aim to address all these problems.

  9. Stephen says

    Laws address all these problems. Hate crime laws are not required.
    As I stated, a judge has full authority to impose the harshest penalty on a murderer (or any other criminal) depending upon the circumstances and the facts leading up to the crime committed.

    In the case cited in this post, I believe the judge would not sentence the person responsible for this reprehensible act to a minimum incarceration; more likely – and deservedly – death.

  10. RB says

    So I understand your point NYCREDNECK that people can grow. However, NONE of the comments of late are from John but are from Elizabeth. I question how much “growing” John Edwards has really done. And I do agree with Jake’s statement that “John Edwards is actually more forthcoming in his silence on the issue than any other candidate to date. It speaks volumes”.

    Really, do you think John has done that much “growing” on LGBT rights? If so, then I must be slower than I thought because I cannot see it!

  11. says

    You can’t say for sure, RB, that John Edwards’ position on gay rights has changed since he allegedly made that comment to a former campaign strategist. Keep in mind that at the time he was running for a senate seat in North Carolina. As a North Carolinean, the state that continued to send Jesse Helms to the hill, gay rights is not something you openly support in statewide elections.

    I agree with NYCREDNECK, we can’t fault people for changing their opinions of gays and gay rights. I’m sure that we have all been a part of changing someone’s mind on the subject at sme point in our lifetimes. The more the merrier, kiddo

  12. Acolyte says

    Stephen: If, as you say, a judge SHOULD impose a harsher (or “the harshest”) sentence for those crimes involving predjudice against a class of people, then what is the difference between that and having federal hate crimes laws? It seems that having hate crimes laws at the national level would help codify (and make widely known) the policy that you yourself seem to support: that some crimes are worthy of harsher punishment based on both the severity of the act and the motivation behind it.

  13. Rey says

    Stephen, it’s nice that you believe how the judge would sentence in this particular case – and you may be right. But I don’t want to bank on that.

    Judges for YEARS have let fagbashers get off for their crimes – the Harvey Milk “twinkie” defense of course first comes to mind. We’ve come a long way but it is still happening.

    I hope you have never had to endure having a good friend murdered just for being gay. I have not had the good fortune, however, and it changed my life. Go rent _License to Kill_ – a documentary – to get some perspective into the power of killing a person to send a message to the larger group. Hate crimes are terrorist actions however they are not treated or interpreted as such, thus the enhancement is needed.

  14. anon (gmail.com) says

    In the case of Milk, it was the jury that let White off. A lot of “hate” crimes involve sexual frustration and self-loathing, which suggests a preventive social policy rather than pallative sentencing. Sexually frustrated men, who take their frustration out on gay men, needed socializing skills development in high school or junior high so as to avoid the whole thing, and many were abused or neglected by their parents. “Hate” crimes are the liberal answer to being “tough on crime” as the conservatives, but the real liberal approach should be to “attack” the causes and motivations of the crime to begin with (poverty, abuse at home, etc.).

  15. Stephen says

    If a judge determines motivation behind a killing was due to a dislike of the class of people (rich, black, etc.) of which the victim belonged to, then the judge has the ability to impose a harsher sentence. Any hate crime law shouldn’t incorporate punishment that is greater than what a judge can impose under current law(s).
    Hence, a hate crime law doesn’t require the debate time it’s been given because the law(s) are already in place.

  16. says

    See below for evidence that those insisting Edwards is being “silent” on gay issues have simply been choosing not to listen or are consciously misrepresenting the facts—read lying—to passively promote their own candidates, even Repug ones. RB, mon cher?

    The last time I checked the official campaign Websites of the three top Dem candidates, this is what I found among the archive of John Edward’s official press releases:

    National LGBT Leaders Endorse John Edwards For President. Pull quote: “I am honored to have the support of so many well-respected LGBT leaders,” said Edwards. “They work hard every day to make our country a better place and I am proud to join with them to fight for equal rights for all Americans.”

    Edwards Statement On The Military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy. Pull quote: “It is long past time to end the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy and to allow openly gay men and women to serve in the military.”

    John Edwards Statement On New Hampshire’s Recognition Of Civil Unions. Pull quote: “New Hampshire’s decision to recognize civil unions and grant gay and lesbian couples the same rights granted to heterosexual married couples is an important step in the fight for justice.”

    Edwards Statement On Surgeon General Nominee. Pull quote: “Dr. James Holsinger’s anti-gay writings and beliefs suggest that he will undermine, not advance, the cause of equality and fairness in health care.”

    In addition, Towleroad itself documented at the time that Edwards was the first of the three to condemn Gen. Pace’s defense of DADT and demonization of gays as “immoral.”

    For the record, on Hillary’s site:

    Clinton Campaign Announces Launch Of LGBT Americans For Hillary Steering Committee. Pull quote: “I am proud to have the support of such distinguished leaders in the LGBT community,” said Clinton. “Together, we can move our nation closer to the promise of fairness and equality that all Americans deserve.”

    Statement from Hillary Clinton On Gay & Lesbian Pride Month. Pull quote: “For six long years, the Bush Administration has only seen the families that matter to them. It’s been a government of the few, by the few, and for the few. And no community has been more invisible to this administration than the LGBT community.”

    And we know that she has frequently spoken of gay equality in speeches and interviews.

    Though I know that Barack Obama has mentioned gays in various contexts, I could find no similar press releases on Obama’s site regarding gay equality. There were several gay grassroot support groups listed, and gay rights references in the supporter blogs, but we are apparently not important enough to be included elsewhere in the official home of his campaign.

    Still, I reiterate, any of these three are better for America on their worst day than any Repug candidate on his best day.

  17. Giovanni says

    Is there anyone who doesn’t think Edwards is speaking through his wife? Yes he’s playing the game but at least he is on the right team.

  18. Kyle Childress says

    To me, hate crimes have the same elements as acts of terror–their intention is to intimidate and cause fear in a group of people. If I am mugged on the street and have my wallet stolen, then I am a single victim. If however I am beaten up because I am gay, I remain a victim, but gay folk in general are also victims because of the terroristic aspect of the act.

    Take, for example, the bombing of the 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1964. The folks that bombed that church likely didn’t care who was killed in that bombing. That is, the four girls who were killed were not the specific targets. The targets were black folks in general, and the intent was to silence the black community. That, to me, is a hate crime, and it deserves greater punishmnent.

  19. Gregg says

    No – Edwards is not “speaking through his wife.” He is using her to basically make campaign promises that he is under no obligation to keep. He is associated with her positive words by marriage, but once elected can easily disavow and distance himself from any and all statements she has made.

    Politics as usual.

  20. Leland says

    And your point is? Any functional one, that is? You children can stomp and hold your breath and wet your panties as much as you want. NO viable candidate for President is going to endorse “gay marriage” this cycle. Ain’t gonna happen.

    If positive positions on gay issues are your litmus test then you’re left with the obligation to weigh each candidate’s known positions against the others’. With that, Hillary and Edwards THE CANDIDATE are essentially even, with Obama behind them by some degree. Now stop the goddamning whining and move on.

  21. Frank L says

    “In the case cited in this post, I believe the judge would not sentence the person responsible for this reprehensible act to a minimum incarceration; more likely – and deservedly – death.”

    I’m almost certain that there’s not a single instance in the United States in which a person convicted of a crime such as was perpetrated against Satendar Singh was ever sentenced to death. The murderers of Allen Schindler and Matthew Shepard got life imprisonment.

  22. peterparker says


    You don’t realize it, but your first post contains the reason there *should* be laws against hate crimes. In it you write, regarding sentencing, “A judge has tremendous leeway…”. You are absolutely correct, Stephen! A judge does have tremendous leeway when it comes to sentencing. And if you are a faggot who has the bad luck to be murdered in some backwater, the judge presiding over the case just might let your murderer walk with the lightest sentence possible. A federal hate crimes law would prohibit a judge’s homophobia from allowing a murderer to walk away scot free.

    And I agree with NYCRedneck, your posts do sound like the spewing of conservative bullshit.


  23. Sam says

    Here in Wyoming we did not enact a hate crimes law even after Matthew Shepherd’s death. Not because we are backwoods hicks who dont care about violence towards gays, but because we feel it is wrong to punish thought. It is forbidden by the constitution. Murder is murder. Assault is assault. Vandalism is vandalism. Punishment should fit the crime.

  24. Joshua says

    Leland….sorry , but if the top tier Democratic candidates can’t openly express their support for Gay rights and marriage in THIS election cycle….then when will they ever be able to????
    The Demcrats should be able to run a blind dog with diarrhea in 2008 and win at least 52% of the vote.
    You can keep deluding yourself about Edwards, Clinton or Obama all you like, but they have no balls, if they can’t be honest about what they believe or stand for. It’s obvious that they won’t stand up for ANYTHING unless 51% or more of voters say they want that to happen. The only reason these chickenshit, so called leaders(except Obama, who wasn’t in the Senate for the vote) are so vehamently against the war is because the polls tell them most of America is as well.

    After 8 years of Bush, all of the scandels, all of the lies and taking of rights, a man who only has 31% support in the polls, the Democrats are still too scared to speak up for whats right, when will I ask….again??

    If John Edwards will do all those things, then HE needs to say so, not his unelected wife. He knows full well that the media won’t be covering her speechs unless he’s actually the nominee, so it’s safe for her to make those statements in his name.

    Can you say…..HYPOCRIT?????

  25. Stephen says


    By your reasoning, government should be an all-controlling body over Americans by passing law after law to administer punishment and to reign in control over (the behavior of) people who know right from wrong, but choose wrong. In other words, “Let’s just toughen up every law. The people are out of control.” THat smacks of Big Brother.

    The laws regarding murder of an innocent person(s)are in place. Any judge basing his/her sentencing on the facts of such a case — as the killing of a homosexual, would not impose a reduced or modest sentence to the guilty party.