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National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Calls on House GOP Leaders to Bring Hate Crimes Bill to the Floor for a Vote

Date: 
September 25, 2002

Today the National and Lesbian Task Force joined Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, other members of Congress, and representatives from the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) and civil rights communities in calling for the discharge of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

"It's appalling that this legislation, which the GLBT community and our allies have been trying to pass for years, is still being stonewalled by the Republican leadership in the House," said Task Force Executive Director Lorri L. Jean. "In this day and age, there is simply no excuse for the GOP top brass to continue pandering to gay-obsessed religious fanatics when it comes to something as reasonable as collecting data about violent hate crimes against GLBT people, especially when so many members of their own party support the legislation."

H.R. 1343, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, would provide assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies and amend federal law to streamline the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. The bill changes existing federal law to add crimes motivated by sexual orientation, gender and disability while also strengthening federal authority to respond to all crimes covered by the law, including those currently covered based on race, color, national origin and religion. An identical measure was passed by not only the Senate during the last Congress as part of the Department of Defense Authorization bill, but was approved by the House pursuant to a 'motion to instruct,' on a 232-192 vote. Despite this bipartisan support, Republican leadership insisted the hate crimes bill be removed from the Department of Defense bill. Under the rules of the House, a simple majority of the house -- or 218 members -- would have to sign the petition in order to bring about the discharge.

"The reality is that the Republican Leadership is woefully out of step with its membership across America," Jean continued. "A majority of Americans across party lines oppose discrimination and support guaranteeing people of color and GLBT people hate crimes protections. With 206 bipartisan cosponsors in the House, this legislation could easily pass today."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.