Press Room

September 27, 2004

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HRC: House Vote Instructs Committee to Pass Hate Crimes Bill

'Congress should work to protect Americans, not discriminate against them,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign lauded today's 213-186 procedural House vote - with 31 Republicans - in favor of passing the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The vote was on a motion to instruct - informing conference committee members that a bipartisan majority of the House wants it to pass, even as Majority Leader Tom Delay, R-Texas, refuses to bring the measure up for a vote.

"Congress should work to protect Americans, not discriminate against them," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "Today the House pushed leadership to keep the measure alive, but later this week they'll consider putting discrimination in the Constitution. It's mean-spirited, election-year politics that puts hard-working, tax-paying Americans at risk. We laud Congress for this vote, especially Minority Leader Pelosi for offering this motion and working to get the overwhelming support of her peers. We urge conference committee members to take it to heart - keep the federal hate crimes bill in conference committee."

The House is scheduled to vote this week on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution (H.J.Res 106) that would deny marriage to same-sex couples.

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act would add real or perceived sexual orientation, gender and disability to federal hate crime laws, thus allowing the federal government the ability to provide assistance for the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes based on these categories. A similar version of the bill was passed in the Senate as an amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill on June 15, 2004. It passed by a 65-33 vote, with 18 Republicans.

The House version has 177 co-sponsors. The House passed a similar motion to instruct in September 2000, by a 232-192 vote, with 41 Republicans, but that amendment was stripped out in conference committee.

The measure enjoys strong bipartisan support and is endorsed by more than 175 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organizations, including: the National Sheriffs' Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and many others.

"We urge committee members to work to pass this important measure into law," added Jacques. "Americans should know that their members of Congress are putting their safety over politics."

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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