Human Rights Campaign Launches FightHateNow.org
April 6, 2009
HRC officially launched a new website today to kick off the campaign to pass federal hate crimes legislation in the 110th Congress. The site, found at www.FightHateNow.org, will:
- Provide background information on the legislation, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA).
- Feature photos and videos illustrating the devastating impact hate crimes have on individuals and communities.
- Answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the bill.
- Provide the latest updates on the bill’s progress.
- Provide users with the tools to directly contact their members of Congress to urge them to support the legislation.
- Link to EndtheLies.org, another HRC site that confronts right-wing lies and distortions repeatedly used to defeat LGBT equality measures. Many of the lies debunked on EndTheLies.org have typically been used against the Matthew Shepard Act. A common claim is that if hate crimes laws are passed, pastors will be prosecuted for preaching what the Bible says about homosexuality. However, pastors will not be held liable for hate crimes based on preaching anti-gay sermons. The First Amendment protects a preacher from being charged as an accessory to a hate crime simply because of their speech. The Matthew Shepard Act only punishes violent crimes, not a person’s speech, beliefs or thoughts.
On Thursday April 2, House Judiciary Committee John Conyers (D-MI) and Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) reintroduced the federal hate crimes bill (H.R. 1913) in the 111th Congress with 41 cosponsors. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA), also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, would give the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the department with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued a statement today:
Each year, thousands of Americans are violently attacked simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. As Congress moves to consider the Matthew Shepard Act, anti-gay, extremist groups are gearing up to pump out an avalanche of lies about the intent of this legislation. FightHateNow.org will not only counter those distortions, it will arm supporters to take direct action. After more than a decade of delay, it’s time for Congress to provide local police and sheriffs’ departments with the tools and resources they need to investigate and prosecute these incidents.
Federal hate crimes legislation has previously been approved by both houses of Congress. It is expected to be introduced in the 111th Congress within the next two months.