Task Force Action Fund calls for enactment of federal hate crimes legislation without 'inhumane' death penalty provision

July 23, 2009

Inga Sarda-Sorensen
Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463
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Federal hate crimes legislation clears another hurdle with passage of Department of Defense authorization bill

WASHINGTON, July 23 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund responded to today’s U.S. Senate passage of the Department of Defense (DOD) authorization bill, which includes a long-sought hate crimes provision but also an amendment to expand the death penalty. Hate crimes legislation cleared the House in April with a vote of 249 to 175. The DOD authorization bill, with the hate crimes provision attached, now moves to conference committee where differences will be ironed out. The Task Force Action Fund is urging for enactment of hate crimes legislation without the death penalty amendment.

The Task Force has been a leader in the effort to secure an effective and full government response to hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, beginning with the launch of its groundbreaking anti-violence project in 1982. Get more details here.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund

"Our country is poised to take an unequivocal stand against hate-motivated violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through the passage of substantive federal hate crimes legislation. People are hungry for positive change and do not want to see their LGBT friends, family, neighbors and co-workers subjected to violence for simply living their lives and being who they are. Enactment of comprehensive hate crimes legislation will send the long-overdue and unmistakable message that our nation rejects and condemns hate violence against its people.

"It is a disgrace that bigotry and ignorance have blocked this from happening yet, but we are on the brink of critical change — yet, once again, not without a fight. For years, opponents have waged a toxic misinformation campaign against this legislation because they would rather see anti-LGBT crimes go unaddressed than have the words 'sexual orientation' or 'gender identity' appear alongside other protected classes in federal law. This time they have maneuvered to get a death penalty amendment attached to the DOD authorization bill in the hopes of derailing the hate crimes measure. This tactic is disingenuous and immoral, but there is still time to strip the death penalty amendment from the bill when it shifts to conference committee. We will be working with other groups to rid the DOD bill of the inhumane, unjust and unnecessary capital punishment provision. Federal hate crimes legislation can and should pass without expanding the death penalty.

"We thank all the Senate members who voted in favor of the motion that allowed the hate crimes provision to pass, with special thanks to Sen. Ted Kennedy for his longtime leadership on this bill, as well as Sens. Patrick Leahy, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, who also sponsored the hate crimes amendment."

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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, founded in 1974 as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. We do this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation and other measures. We also analyze and report on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community. The Task Force Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund are not tax deductible.