Press

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force applauds Senate introduction of federal hate crimes legislation

Date: 
April 12, 2007

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

The Senate introduction of a bill mirroring the House version of federal hate crimes legislation signals Congress’ determination to pass this bill this year

WASHINGTON, April 12 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., applauds today’s introduction by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) of a transgender-inclusive federal hate crimes measure in the U.S. Senate. This year, for the first time, the Senate measure mirrors the transgender-inclusive legislation introduced in the House. On March 20, Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) introduced their bill, which is also the same version passed by the House last Congress.

Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“Congress is finally poised to more seriously address hate-motivated violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The recent anti-gay murders of Andrew Anthos in Michigan and Ryan Skipper in Florida are only the latest examples of a depressingly long list of victims of hate violence against our community. It’s a disgrace that bigotry and ignorance have prevented Congress from taking real action to address hate crimes for nearly 20 years. We urge swift passage of this much-needed and long-overdue legislation that states clearly and unequivocally that Americans reject all forms of hate violence.

“We applaud Senators Kennedy and Smith for introducing this bill today, and we look forward to next week’s hearing in the House to move this legislation forward.”

Background

U.S. Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) are chief Senate sponsors of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (LLEHCPA), which would extend federal authority for investigation and prosecution of hate violence to those crimes based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. (Current federal hate crimes law covers crimes motivated by race, religion and national origin.) The bill would also remove the limitation on federal involvement under existing law that a victim of a bias-motivated crime must have been attacked because the victim was engaged in a specific federally protected activity such as serving on a jury or attending public school. If this legislation is enacted into law, the Department of Justice will have the authority to provide assistance to local law enforcement agencies in addressing all forms of hate violence.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are disproportionately affected by hate violence. According to the FBI, 14 percent of hate crime victims in 2005 were victims of crimes motivated by hatred of lesbian, gay or bisexual people. Moreover, reports produced by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (1984–1993) and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (1994–present) have documented more than 35,000 anti-LGBT crimes over the last 22 years. It is important to note that these statistics are based on reports from only a handful of local LGBT crime victim assistance agencies.

The version of the hate crimes bill introduced today includes crimes based on a victim’s actual or perceived gender identity. This is the first time a transgender-inclusive bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. This clear inclusion of transgender people in hate crimes laws is especially important because violence against transgender people is widespread, largely underreported and disproportionately greater than the number of transgender people in society. In 2005, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported that 11 percent of the 2,306 victims of hate crimes identified as transgender.

The Task Force has led the movementwide 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. Task Force organizing, coalition building and lobbying resulted in the 1990 passage of the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Conyers.

Additional resources for media

Learn more about the Task Force’s groundbreaking and longtime work to secure hate crimes protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.


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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc. (“NGLTF, Inc.”), founded in 1974, 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. NGLTF, Inc., is a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to NGLTF, Inc., are not tax-deductible.