Press

NGLTF Celebrates Passage of Hawaiian Hate Crimes Bill

Date: 
April 02, 2003

Bill Adding

HONOLULU, HI, April 2, 2003 - With a vote of 39-8, the Hawaii House of Representatives sent Senate Bill 616, which adds "gender identity or expression" to the state's hate crimes law, to Governor Linda Lingle's desk yesterday. The bill sailed through the Hawaiian legislature this session with a series of lopsided votes: the Senate voted to pass the measure 22-3 on March 4; the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-0; and the House Judiciary Committee voted 10-0.

Hawaii's existing hate crimes law covers race, religion, disability, ethnicity, national origin and sexual orientation, providing authority to give longer sentences if a crime is committed because of hostility based on any of the covered characteristics. Sexual orientation was part of the original hate crimes law that passed in 2001.

"Today, from the mainland we celebrate another victory for transgender people this legislative session," said Lisa Mottet, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) Transgender Civil Rights Project Legislative Lawyer. "This year may be the best year yet of passing transgender-specific and transgender-inclusive laws at the state level."

Earlier this session, the New Mexico legislature passed two transgender-inclusive bills, an anti-discrimination bill and a hate crimes bill, which now await signature from New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Other transgender-inclusive bills are making favorable progress in California, Illinois and Washington State. Last year, Pennsylvania passed a transgender-inclusive hate crimes law and New Jersey passed a transgender-inclusive safe schools law. Also last year, fourteen local jurisdictions, with a total population of 18.4 million people, enacted anti-discrimination laws with transgender protections or added transgender protections to existing anti-discrimination laws.

"The victory in Hawaii is a victory for the entire gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) movement," according to Lorri L. Jean, NGLTF Executive Director. "It shows that legislators really do care about the rights of everyone in our community and that trans-inclusion does not hinder a bill's passage. The wins this year will keep the momentum going to pass additional pro-GLBT in the future."

The NGLTF Transgender Civil Rights Project worked with state activists including "Civil Unions - Civil Rights Movement," the Hawai`i GLBTQI advocacy organization which led efforts to pass the bill, by helping to develop better legislative language for this year's bill, as well as assisting with preparation for committee hearings.

The NGLTF Transgender Civil Rights Project provides legislative and strategy assistance, including evaluation of legislative language, to activists and organizations working to pass transgender-inclusive anti-discrimination bills or to add transgender protections to existing laws throughout the country.

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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.