Press

Pennsylvania Expands Hate Crimes Law

Date: 
December 03, 2002

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Applauds Governor Schweiker for Signing Bill Adding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity To Existing Classes

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker has signed a bill expanding the state hate crime law to include actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the measure on November 26 with a vote of 118-79, after the Senate passed the bill 32-15 on June 21, 2001.

"Hate and hate crimes continue to be serious problems in this country," said National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) Executive Director Lorri L. Jean. "Hate crime laws send the much needed message that violence used to harm people and intimidate them into restricting their self expression will not be tolerated. NGLTF is pleased to see that Pennsylvania has joined the rapidly growing list of states in this country that include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people in their hate crime laws."

The bill's success was due in large part to a broad-based, bi-partisan community effort. Numerous local, state and national GLBT organizations, including NGLTF, worked toward passage of this bill. Also instrumental were the bill's House sponsors, including Steve Nickol, Pat Browne and Lita Cohen.

Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker said in a statement, "By signing this legislation, I am joining the General Assembly in sending a strong, clear message that Pennsylvania will not tolerate violence against anyone — period."

Pennsylvania joins 27 other states and the District of Columbia that have hate crime laws that cover sexual orientation. Pennsylvania becomes the fifth state, along with California, Minnesota, Missouri, Vermont and the District of Columbia, to include gender identity and/or expression language in its hate crime law.

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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.