By Rebecca Sheir
In 2009, Maryland became the first state to extend hate-crimes protection to homeless people. An advocacy group has named the state senator who sponsored the legislation the National Homeless Advocate of the Year.
At last night's candlelight vigil commemorating the dozens of homeless people who died in the National Capital Region this year, Maryland State Sen. Alex M. Mooney received the award from the National Coalition for the Homeless.
"My view is we're all created in the image and likeness of God," Senator Mooney said to the crowd outside Union Station. "That applies to everybody, homeless or not. And I thought it only makes sense to do that for Maryland, to include them in the hate crimes statute," said Mooney. "I hope it sends a message that homeless people should be treated with respect and dignity and supported."
Maryland's U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) recently sponsored a federal bill to extend hate-crimes protection to the homeless, and the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider that bill on Christmas Eve.