'Hate crimes send a message to an entire community. We strongly urge Governor Ehrlich to answer back, as the state Legislature already has, that all hate crimes will be equally investigated and prosecuted,' said HRC President Joe Solmonese.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign lauded the Maryland Senate for Friday's 34 to 13 vote in favor of a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing hate crimes law. HRC is now strongly urging Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to sign the bill into law, which would make Maryland the ninth state with an anti-hate crime measure that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity (see map).
"Hate crimes send a message to an entire community. We strongly urge Governor Ehrlich to answer back, as the state Legislature already has, that all hate crimes will be equally investigated and prosecuted," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "We praise Equality Maryland for its stalwart efforts to pass this bill and to ensure that the entire gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community was protected."
"The Maryland General Assembly has taken a very positive step by joining a growing number of states that already include anti-LGBT-motivated crimes in their hate crimes statutes," said Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland. "Passage of this bill will specifically help to make the legal and law enforcement communities in Maryland cognizant of the risks that our communities face every day."
HRC worked with the statewide GLBT advocacy group, Equality Maryland, to secure passage of the bill. HRC's work included: providing expert testimony in several committees, providing technical assistance to the bill sponsors and sending Action Alerts to members in Maryland on behalf of Equality Maryland.
Del. Adrienne Jones, D-Baltimore County, and Sen. John Giannetti Jr., D-Prince George's and Anne Arundel Counties, sponsored the bill. The House of Delegates passed it on March 24, 2005, by a 93-41 vote. Ehrlich has not yet said whether he would sign the bill.
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