The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals narrowly ruled that the state’s hate crime law doesn’t extend to assaults motivated by sexual orientation.
Laying failure to include that specific at the feet of legislators, the court stated in its 3-2 decision that the “West Virginia legislature could have included sexual orientation as an area of protection … [as] [n]umerous other states have done.”
Currently, race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, political affiliation and sex are protected.
The decision is the result of the State of West Virginia vs. Steward Butler, an incident that involved Butler allegedly yelling gay slurs at Zackary Johnson and Casey Williams when he saw the two men kissing.
Butler then supposedly got out of his car and hit both of them in the face, ABC News reports.
“If a man stands on a corner kissing a man and is beaten because he is kissing a man, has he been assaulted because of his sex,” Justice Margaret L. Workman wrote in her dissenting opinion, believing that current law still applies. “Yes, but not simply because he possesses male anatomical parts; rather, the crime occurred because he was perceived to be acting outside the social expectations of how a man should behave with a man. But for his sex, he would not have been attacked.”
According to ABC News, there have been at least 26 attempts to add sexual orientation to the statute.