Press

Task Force Hails Historic First — House of Representatives Votes to Extend Protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgend

Date: 
September 14, 2005

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force praised the House of Representatives for its historic vote today to amend the Children's Safety Act by adding what has been known as the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. If enacted into law, the amendment's provisions would extend existing federal hate crimes laws that already cover crimes motivated by race, color, national origin and religion to include crimes based on actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity (including gender-related characteristics). New gender identity/characteristics language was added just this year to make clear that the legislation applied to hate crimes against transgender people. The vote on the amendment was 223 to 199, with 30 Republicans supporting the amendment. The full bill later passed the House overwhelmingly.

"Never before has the House of Representatives voted to protect transgender people in any way," said Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the Task Force. "And today marks the first time, outside of procedural motions, that the House has affirmatively voted to extend full hate crimes protections to lesbian, gay and bisexual people. This proves that even in times of adversity for our community, when grassroots voices keep up the pressure on our elected officials, decency can prevail."

The Task Force worked closely with the lead sponsors and allies on this legislation to insure that hate crimes against transgender people were explicitly covered because of the prevalence of these crimes and the reality than many are never reported because of widespread concerns about law enforcement inaction or hostility.

"Hate violence continues to cast a shadow on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," said Eldie Acheson, the Task Force's Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs. "Today's action by the House of Representatives reflects what polls have now shown for years — that Americans want lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to have the same federal protections from hate violence as all other Americans. We especially thank Representatives Conyers, Pelosi, Baldwin and Frank for their leadership in forcing a vote on this measure today."

–30–

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.