Press

Task Force Action Fund hails passage of NJ bill making anti-bullying and hate crimes laws two of the strongest in the nation

Date: 
January 07, 2008

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

New Jersey makes transgender-inclusion unequivocal in its
hate crimes and safe schools laws

“New Jersey has long been a national leader on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, but today rises to the top with two of the strongest hate crimes and safe schools laws in the country and unequivocal protections for transgender people.”
— Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 — By a 65-10 vote, the New Jersey Assembly today approved legislation making the state’s anti-bullying and hate crimes laws two of the strongest in the country by making transgender-inclusion unequivocal and significantly bolstering the two laws’ enforcement mechanisms. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund partnered with Garden State Equality and the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey to provide drafting and strategy support for the measure. The legislation passed the state Senate last Thursday by a 35-0 vote. Gov. Jon Corzine’s administration testified in support of the legislation and the governor is expected to sign it into law.

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

“On the heels of a year that closed with Congress stripping transgender people out of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and pulling LGBT hate crimes protections from the Department of Defense authorization bill, this is an important and much-needed victory. New Jersey has long been a national leader on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, but today rises to the top with two of the strongest hate crimes and safe schools laws in the country and unequivocal protections for transgender people.

“We applaud Garden State Equality, the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey Anti-Defamation League, the New Jersey Educational Association and state lawmakers who forged ahead to launch 2008 with such a positive and fair-minded act. We look forward to Gov. Corzine’s signature on this important legislation.”

Background

New Jersey will become the 12th state with a transgender-inclusive hate crimes law when this measure is signed into law. The measure also improves existing hate crimes provisions by mandating two hours of training on hate crimes for all new police officers and offering non-sentence penalty options to judges, such as anti-hate sensitivity training for convicted defendants. Additionally, although New Jersey already is among five other states and the District of Columbia that have transgender-inclusive safe schools laws, today’s legislation makes New Jersey’s safe-schools law among the strongest in the nation. It expands existing law to require schools to post and distribute their anti-bullying policies and by creating a Commission on Bullying in Schools to investigate bullying and make recommendations to the governor and legislature for future legislation. In 2006, New Jersey included express protections based on gender identity/expression in its nondiscrimination laws.

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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.