Press Room

October 26, 2004


HRC Launches Ad Spotlighting Mel Martinez’s Opposition to Hate Crimes Legislation

'Attempts to divide Americans for political purposes are mean-spirited and will not succeed,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign political action committee launched a $250,000 independent expenditure campaign yesterday on Florida radio stations highlighting Mel Martinez's opposition to a federal hate crimes law, which seeks to add sexual orientation, gender and disability to existing hate crime statutes.

During his primary race, Martinez's outspoken opposition to the bipartisan legislation, which has been endorsed by more than 300 law enforcement officials, cost him the endorsement of the St. Petersburg Times, which called his campaign "embarrassing" and "unprincipled." Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, also rebuked Martinez for the remarks and asked him to pull the ads.

"Attempts to divide Americans for political purposes are mean-spirited and will not succeed," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "They cost Mr. Martinez key endorsements in his primary, and next week they will cost him the election."

Martinez is currently running for the Senate against Betty Castor, who supports the hate crimes law that would grant extra support to local law enforcement officials for the investigation and prosecution of bias crimes that result in serious bodily injury or death. This bill is also supported by a broad coalition of law enforcement, civil rights and religious organizations, including the National Council of Jewish Women, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Anti-Defamation League.

The ad will air in Lakeland Winterhaven, Miami, Tallahassee, Tampa, Sarasota and West Palm Beach.

Listen to the ad.

Text of the ad follows:


A 49-year-old black man, dragged by a pick-up truck for three miles テ killed because he was black. A 21-year-old student, bound, tortured テ killed because he was gay. A Florida Holocaust Museum exhibit テ desecrated to spread hate. Sickening crimes.
That's why leaders of both parties have fought for a national hate crimes law. But Mel Martinez attacked Republican Congressman Bill McCollum for supporting the hate crimes law.

Leading Republicans like former Senator Connie Mack support the hate crimes law, as do the National Council of Jewish Women and most law enforcement organizations.

The St Petersburg Times called Martinez's comments "slimy," "slurs," "hateful" and "dishonest," and they withdrew their endorsement of him. The Tampa Tribune reported that even Governor Bush had to stop Martinez from making these ugly attacks.

What kind of man would engage in this kind of bigotry? Not the kind we want in the United States Senate.
Paid for by the Human Rights Campaign PAC and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. The Human Rights Campaign PAC is responsible for the content of this advertising.

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.