The Internet (collectively known as “Democrats”) this week began hating on Ken Buck, the Colorado Republican Senate candidate and district attorney, after he went on Meet The Press and said being gay was a choice, but might be sort of impacted by genetics the way other diseases like alcoholism are. (In that same conversation, he used the words “buyer’s remorse” to describe a rape case he opted not to prosecute.) But what about Ken Buck, the man who successfully prosecuted a trans woman’s killer?
Right-y paper The Washington Times says Buck has a “gay rights resume” that should buffer any claims he’s anti-gay. The paper’s Valerie Richardson found this (singular) example:
Last year, Mr. Buck won the first hate-crimes murder conviction in the nation involving a transgender victim. At the time, national gay-rights groups hailed Mr. Buck’s decision as Weld County district attorney to prosecute the killer under the state’s hate-crimes statute.
See what Buck did there? His job.
The case was last year’s the murder trial of 18-year-old Angie Zapata, where Allen Andrade was convicted of four crimes, including first-degree murder with a hate crime attachment after killing Zapata in her home. During the April 2009 trial, Buck told the press that “if someone goes after someone here because of their sexual status, we will come after you with everything we have.” Following the verdict, he wrote in an op-ed:
Initially, I was skeptical about the use of the bias-motivated crimes statute. Through my exposure to the Zapata case, I was persuaded that these crimes are unique. Bias-motivated crimes are particularly heinous because they target an entire community of people, not just the actual victim. While the perpetrators impose violence on an individual, their actions are actually intended to intimidate a much wider circle and send a message that anyone who is different could be next. I was convinced that the defendant in the Zapata case meant to intimidate a broader community when he said in a recorded phone call that he killed Angie because “all gay things must die.”
[...] This isn’t solely about law enforcement. We are also called to act against the perpetrators of bias-motivated crimes for moral reasons. Through my upbringing, faith and life experience, I believe in the Golden Rule: We should treat others as we would like to be treated. To inflict violence on a person simply because he or she is different is morally repugnant to our broader sense of community. Outlawing such acts through comprehensive laws is a necessary and overdue step toward protecting our fellow citizens from being singled out for hate-based violence.
What’s interesting, then, is that Buck says he believes crimes focusing on immutable characteristics should have special punishments — but he told Meet The Press that sexual orientation is not one of them. Zapata’s gender identity, however, is.
Yesterday in response to accusations of homophobia, his campaign said “Ken has a record of fighting for all Coloradans.” Either way, Buck’s lead over opponent Sen. Michael Bennet has slipped from a 9-point margin in August to an effective tie.
Facing such backlash, perhaps it’s time the campaign to to clarify rumors that Tim Gill, the billionaire Colorado-based gay philanthropist, had Buck’s back in his district attorney race last year — for prosecuting Zapata’s murder as a hate crime.