Press

Task Force, Inc., condemns decision to remove hate crimes provisions from Defense authorization bill

Date: 
December 06, 2007

MEDIA CONTACT:
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Congressional leadership fails lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community by stripping hate crimes provisions from Department of Defense authorization

Task Force calls upon Senate to send stand-alone hate crimes bill to the president’s desk

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., today condemned congressional leadership’s decision to remove a gay and transgender-inclusive federal hate crimes measure from the Department of Defense authorization bill. The hate crimes bill passed the House as a stand-alone bill on May 3 and the Senate as part of the Defense authorization bill on Sept. 27. The provisions were added to the Defense funding authorization bill in the hopes that it would survive a promised presidential veto. In the House, however, that attach-strategy engendered opposition from conservative members opposed to the hate crimes provisions and from other members opposed to the war in Iraq. The Task Force, Inc., mobilized its members through action alerts, lobbied congressional offices and organized other national partners to pressure Congress not to give in — again — to right-wing opposition to LGBT legislation.

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

“We are deeply angered and disappointed by the decision to strip hate crimes provisions from the Defense authorization bill since we’d been assured by congressional leaders that attaching the provisions to the larger bill was the only way to avoid a presidential veto. We call on the Senate to immediately advance a stand-alone version of hate crimes that matches the version passed by the House earlier this year and send it to the president’s desk. When the president vetoes the bill — as he has repeatedly promised to do — everyone will see just how subservient this administration is to America’s anti-gay industry. Force his hand, for goodness sake, rather than hiding us away.

“Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people has escalated over the past 25 years. Since establishing our groundbreaking Anti-Violence Project in 1982, we have been working to get the federal government to take a stand against this epidemic. Sadly, little progress has been made in the 17 years since Congress passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act because right-wing forces would rather see hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people ignored than have the words ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity’ appear alongside other protected classes in federal law. It’s appalling that this administration — which has never met a tough-on-crime bill it didn’t like — is so in bed with these forces.

“We look to the leadership of our long-standing champions in the Senate on this bill, Senators Edward Kennedy and Gordon Smith, to press forward and force the issue.”

Background

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are disproportionately affected by hate violence. In fact, lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more likely to be victims of hate-motivated physical assaults than other minorities, including African Americans, Jews and Muslims. 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 that had been attached to the Defense authorization bill included crimes based on a victim’s actual or perceived gender identity. The 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 reported hate crimes identified as transgender.

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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) nonprofit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to NGLTF, Inc., are not tax-deductible.