WASHINGTON - Today the U.S. House of Representatives took a step toward moving a hate crimes bill (H.R. 1592) through Congress by holding a hearing in the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
"As the hate crimes bill moves through the Congress, we will continue to work with House and Senate leaders to build support for its passage," said HRC Legislative Director, Allison Herwitt. "We received a tremendous boost today as hundreds of clergy came to Washington to show their support for this bill."
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act adds sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to federal hate crimes laws. The government already has authority to prosecute crimes committed because of the victim's race, color, religion and national origin and because the victim was attempting to exercise a federally protected right. This bill broadens the classes covered and extends protection in cases that do not involve a federally protected activity. It thus creates a federal backstop to assist local law enforcement upon request or when local authorities fail to adequately investigate or prosecute these serious crimes.
Subcommittee witnesses supporting this hate crimes legislation included Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff George Washington University Law School Dean Frederick Lawrence hate crime victim David Ritcheson of Harris County, Texas and Jack McDevitt, associate dean at Northeastern University.
The Human Rights Campaign continues to work with legislators in both House and Senate as the companion hate crimes bills move through Congress.
Today, the nation's capital was the site for a historic show of support when hundreds of clergy traveled to Capitol Hill to endorse the hate crimes bills and meet with their respective members of Congress in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. Billed as the Clergy Call for Justice and Equality and hosted by the Human Rights Campaign Religion Council, clergy from every state in the country united together to urge passage of the hate crimes bill, as well as federal workplace non-discrimination legislation. View pictures of the clergy event.
For additional information on hate crimes visit the HRC website at www.hrc.org.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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