Senator King endorses bill banning gay and trans 'panic' defense

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WABI) - Senator Angus King is among lawmakers who want to get rid of what's called the Gay and Transgender Panic Defense.

That type of defense seeks to excuse or mitigate crimes like assault and murder by arguing a victim's sexual identity can be to blame for a defendant's violent reaction.

The bill comes as a result of the murder of Matthew Shepherd 20 years ago.

His killer argued Shepard's sexual advances excused hi violent acts.

Senator King says, "This is the long march towards equality. One of the things it says is, prejudice isn't an excuse for assault. You can go back into our history and substitute race for being gay and other kinds of differences that I just don't think is what we're all about. I think this is a step forward for recognizing all people for who they are, as God's children who deserve the respect of each and every one of us."

This law would apply to federal courts.

Five states have already passed similar laws.