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Calif. lawmakers consider bill to ban ‘gay panic’ defense in slayings

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A bill making its way through the California Legislature would prevent defendants from using a so-called “gay panic” defense to escape murder charges.

California state capitol in Sacramento.

California state capitol in Sacramento.

AB2501 heads to the state Senate after passing the Assembly Wednesday on a 42-16 vote.

California criminal law considers killings done in the heat of passion manslaughter, not murder. The bill says a defendant’s discovery of his victim’s true gender or sexual orientation is not grounds for a “heat of passion” crime.

Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord says her bill sends a message that violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people is not acceptable.

It’s not clear if a gay panic defense has been used successfully in California. A teenager who shot and killed a gay classmate in 2008 pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

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