Press

Task Force, Inc., hails Senate passage of federal hate crimes legislation

Date: 
September 27, 2007

MEDIA CONTACT: Roberta Sklar, Communications Director
(Office) 646.358.1465
(Cell) 917.704.6358
rsklar@theTaskForce.org

Vote clearly shows that U.S. rejects all forms of hate violence, including bias-motivated crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

First time a bill extending protections to transgender people has passed both houses of Congress

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., hails today’s landmark passage of a gay and transgender-inclusive federal hate crimes measure, included as an amendment to the Department of Defense reauthorization bill. The amendment, introduced by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), passed by a 60–39 cloture vote, which ended debate and sent the bill to the floor where it was approved by a voice vote.

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

“At long last, Congress is putting a bill on the president’s desk to condemn and respond to violent crimes based on hatred of a person’s sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. Laws ultimately reflect a nation’s values and today’s vote says that America rejects all forms of hate violence, including bias-motivated crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. This victory is all the more sweet given the right wing’s hysterical, defamatory and lying campaign against it. 

“We are deeply disappointed by President Bush’s past statements that he would veto hate crimes legislation. The president has also threatened to veto the larger Department of Defense reauthorization bill to which this measure is attached. We call upon the president to work with — rather than oppose — the Congress, the overwhelming majority of the public and national and local law enforcement leaders in enacting this important legislation.

“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. Until today, 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.

“We particularly thank Sens. Edward Kennedy and Gordon Smith for their leadership and commitment to the passage of this legislation. We also want to recognize those courageous senators who stood in support of this vital legislation despite immense political pressure from anti-gay forces.”

Background

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (LLEHCPA) extends federal authority for investigation and prosecution of hate violence to 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. LLEHCPA also removes the existing limitation on federal involvement 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. The Department of Justice will now have the authority to provide assistance to local law enforcement agencies in addressing all forms of hate violence.

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 passed today includes 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.

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

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