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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reasons for not supporting hate crimes legislation

Baker discusses the reasons he has not supported hate crimes legislation, but he is also very concerned about the fact that the courts have not ruled that homosexuals are covered by existing laws. He ends this passage by discussing other social justice issues that interest him.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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But the primary issue that we are getting at is, that it is not that I don't think, for instance—I think that the issues that are very important to fight for within the gay community are issues that give people the same rights and protections that everybody else [has] What I think we really ought to fight for, which nobody seems to want to do in this country, is the equal protection under the laws thing. So, that all laws that apply to any residents or citizens are applied equally to everybody else. Thus, you don't need new laws, for instance to—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, interesting.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
You wouldn't need new laws that give us permission to marry.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You use what is on the books?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
You use what is on the books, because, the constitution guarantees equal protection. But, no one, including the Supreme Court, is willing to enforce the equal protection laws.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, were you against a hate crimes bill, because you would rather enforce the laws that are on the books and make sure that that happens? Or would you recognize that they are not going to so maybe a hate crimes law would be necessary.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Well, hate crimes laws simply point out that we need to do; we need to enforce the laws equally. Since we don't do that, we create another law, which we don't necessarily enforce. [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right, there is no guarantee that it will be enforced once it is passed.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
So, we have hate crimes laws that have loop holes, in some instances it is used, but anything that will protect people's rights, protect people's safety and livelihood, I support. I am just saying, we really don't need to create all of the new laws that we do to protect us, if somebody would simply give us an interpretation and an enforcement of the equal protection under the laws. For instance, if they enforce equal protection under the laws, you would not need laws that permitted people of the same sex to marry. Because we have the same rights as anyone else, under there. But, because—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Unfortunately, recently there are have just been recent laws that have just made a statement that it can't happen. 2 2 Chris is referring to the federal law the "Defense of Marriage Act" passed in the mid 90s which defines a marriage as a union between a man and a woman, patently excluding gay men and lesbians from marriage
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Okay, so they are creating special laws to keep us—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
To exclude—
QUINTON E. BAKER:
To exclude us. Though the Constitution and the Supreme Courts are not saying those laws are unconstitutional because you can't create laws to exclude American citizens from protection of other laws. So, I think, long story short, I support fighting for those kind of laws. I think that the fact that though we have built a household together, though we have all of these things and it would never happen because I know his parents very well, but Ron's parents, if something happened to him, could walk in here and demand—there is no protection here for us.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Demand—to take his things, or demand to take over medical decisions, or you name it, because you don't have rights as a spouse.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
That's right, I don't have rights as a spouse. If he goes to the hospital, I would probably be admitted because our doctor knows our relationship, he would insist that I be allowed there, but outside of that environment, I have no rights, I have no rights whatsoever. I think those are issues that definitely need to be fought for. And it is just a question of where the energy, where you put your energy. At the same time, and the reason I say, where you put your energy—at the same time—and the reason I say where you put your energy, I understand also that there are, much of my energy and efforts goes into trying to help people understand and how to create healthy communities. How to create environments in which people can be healthy. How to create adequate access to healthcare, if you are poor and so it is a way of where you spend your time.