Press Room

September 22, 2004

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HRC Applauds Gov. Schwarzenegger for Signing Comprehensive Hate Crimes Law

'California is working to unify its citizens as others attempt to divide us,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign commends California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, for signing the Omnibus Hate Crimes Act of 2004. The law creates a uniform definition of a hate crime and includes crimes against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as well providing tools to reduce such crimes.

"California is working to unify its citizens as others attempt to divide us," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "We hope this welcome development acts as a beacon to Congress to take similar steps in protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans from the scourge of hate crimes. We laud Governor Schwarzenegger, the legislators and Equality California for their work on this law."

"Equality California greatly appreciates Governor Schwarzenegger's continued support of legislation designed to reduce discrimination and violence against LGBT Californians," said Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California. "We hope his action sends a strong message to any members of Congress who may not be inclined to support the federal Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act."

Jacques added, "We're working hard to ensure that the intent and enforcement of the federal bill is just as clear in its coverage of the entire GLBT community as California's."

The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act would expand federal jurisdiction to reach serious, violent hate crimes based on "the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability" of the victims. The Senate passed the measure June 15, 2004, by a 65 to 33 bipartisan vote as an amendment on the Department of Defense authorization bill.

The fate of the federal hate crimes law rests with a conference committee, which is comprised of members of the Senate and House of Representatives. HRC is working with coalition allies and congressional supporters to ensure the hate crimes bill is not stripped out by the conference committee, as it has been twice before.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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