Brutal Anti-Gay Killing In Texas Shocks Community As Battle For Tougher Hate Crime Law Continues

January 25, 1996

The brutal killing of Fred Mangione on January 4 in a Houston, Texas suburb tragically underscored the efforts of local activists to pass a tougher state hate crime law. Texas activists have called on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community to assist them in pressuring state lawmakers to pass this legislation. Meanwhile, NGLTF is urging Texas officials to take a strong stand on ending hate crime in their state.

Mangione was stabbed 35 times by two neo-Nazis, half brothers Daniel Christopher Bean and Ronald Henry Gauthier, members of the German Peace Corps, a California-based neo-Nazi group. According to witnesses, Bean and Gauthier said they were going to "get a fag", prior to the murder.

Local activists have battled for a tougher hate crime law since the current law was passed in 1993. Legislators intentionally worded it so vaguely that it is practically unusable by prosecutors. Attempts to pass a hate crime law with "teeth", modeled on a Wisconsin law which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993, have failed. The local Christian Coalition in Austin has campaigned strongly against the bill, even purporting that "child molesters" would be protected under the measure. Ironically, on the same day this bill was last defeated in the Texas House, May 20, 1995, Joe Isassi was killed in an anti-gay attack in Corpus Christi.

"We need people's help to put pressure on Texas lawmakers and let them know that their refusal to act to end hate crimes in Texas is a national embarrassment and a strike against American justice," stated Diane-Garcia, Executive Director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas.

NGLTF expressed its concerns regarding this case to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

NGLTF has encouraged DOJ to continue its efforts to improve the documentation and reporting of hate crime by local law enforcement departments under the federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act to ensure more accurate tracking by DOJ of these crimes.

The Task Force is also writing to Texas Governor George W. Bush, the President Pro Tem of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House urging them to adopt a strong and effective hate crime bill in honor of all those who have died at the hands of hate in Texas, including Fred Mangione. NGLTF is stressing the importance, both symbolic and actual, of meaningful hate crime laws in stemming hate violence. Sixteen states, excluding Texas, have hate crime measures that include crimes based on sexual orientation. Twenty states have hate crime laws that do not include sexual orientation, and 14 states have no hate crime law.

Melinda Paras, NGLTF Executive Director, said, "Strong hate crime laws are essential in combating hate violence against all people. It is time to speak loudly and clearly against those who believe attacking - and even killing - gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people is acceptable and should go unchecked." Paras added, "We challenge the Governor and the Texas state legislature to stand up against the forces that engage in and protect hate crime."

NGLTF is helping the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (LGRLT) bring attention to the alarming level of anti-gay violence in Texas by promoting its anti-gay hate crime pledge campaign. The Pledge for a Better Texas Project, recently launched by LGRLT, is designed to educate and garner support for a tougher hate crime law in Texas. All Texans, former Texans, those who do business in Texas, those with families or friends in the state, and Texans-at-heart should contact LGRLT at (512) 474-5475 or or P.O. Box 2579; Austin, Texas 78768.–30–

The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.