California is the first state to pass a ban on using the "gay panic" defense to reduce a murder charge.
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You can no longer wiggle out of a murder charge in California by saying you were frightened by a scary lesbian.
Current California law allows a murder charge to be reduced to manslaughter if the killing happened in the heat of passion - the so-called "panic defense". Defendants charged with murdering members of the LGBT community have been able to claim they acted in a "moment of passion" upon discovering the victim was LGBT, and therefor their crime met the requirements for a reduced charge of manslaughter. The bill that passed the Assembly this week will bar defendants from using their victim's gender or sexual orientation to support a panic defense. An identical bill passed the state senate in May.
Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (right) sponsored the bill, which passed on a 50-10 vote. Ms. Bonilla told reporters that such defenses legitimize violence against LGBT people.
Though The American Bar Association advocates curtailing the use of the "gay panic" defense, California is the first state to ban using the "heat of passion" defense because the victim was LGBT.
The bill now heads for Governor Jerry Brown's desk for his signature.
Image via Freedigitalimages.net
Susan Bonilla photo via Facebook