Task Force Action Fund applauds House Judiciary Committee passage of hate crimes legislation

April 23, 2009

Inga Sarda-Sorensen
Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463
(Cell) 202.641.5592

WASHINGTON, April 23 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund applauds the House Judiciary Committee's passage today of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1913), which includes a key provision that would expand existing federal hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. The measure has previously passed both chambers on several occasions.

The Task Force has a long history in working to secure hate crimes protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Get more details here.

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

“Laws ultimately reflect a nation's values, and this legislation, once passed, will send a strong message that America rejects all forms of hate violence, including bias-motivated crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. This committee vote marks the beginning of the end of a long-fought battle.

“We are pleased that President Obama has expressed support for this critical legislation by announcing he will sign the bill when it comes to his desk. We hope the administration will play a role in assisting with the measure's passage in both the House and Senate.

“No one can deny the potent and devastating reality of hate violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Despite this, little progress has been made to combat this deadly scourge since Congress first passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act nearly two decades ago. Why? Because right-wing forces would rather see anti-LGBT crimes go unaddressed by law enforcement than have the words 'sexual orientation' or 'gender identity' appear alongside other protected classes in federal law.

“This bill is important for the entire country because it adds and improves federal hate crimes protections based on race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. Local law enforcement authorities who lack the resources to investigate hate crimes would receive much-needed support from colleagues at federal agencies.

“Unfortunately, opponents of the bill have once again launched an extensive misinformation campaign. Over the last several years, they have spent a lot of time and money spreading lies about the impact of the legislation, including that it punishes people's 'thoughts' and would lead to the imprisonment of evangelical Christians for sharing their beliefs about LGBT people. This is both patently untrue and blatant fear mongering. Individuals can only be prosecuted under this law if they have committed an act of violence.

“We thank the members of the committee and their staffs for their years of work and dedication to passing this important legislation. We particularly thank U.S. Rep. John Conyers, whose steady and stellar leadership to end the epidemic of hate crimes against the LGBT community dates back to 1986, when he conducted the first-ever congressional hearing on the issue. Today's legislative victory is a testament to his steadfast belief that all victims of hate crimes deserve justice.”

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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.