Human Rights Campaign Launches Website to Kick Off Campaign to Pass Federal Hate Crimes Legislation

by HRC Staff provides up-to-the-minute updates on bill's progress with opportunities for voters to take action.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today launched a website to arm voters with tools to help pass overdue federal hate crimes legislation. The site, includes testimonials, up-to-the minute updates on Congressional action, and specific action voters can take to ensure its passage.

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA), also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, would give the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the department with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the victim is chosen because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

"Each year, thousands of Americans are violently attacked simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. As Congress moves to consider the Matthew Shepard Act, anti-gay, extremist groups are gearing up to pump out an avalanche of lies about the intent of this legislation," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. " will not only counter those distortions, it will arm supporters to take direct action. After more than a decade of delay, it's time for Congress to provide local police and sheriffs' departments with the tools and resources they need to investigate and prosecute these incidents."

The new website also features photos and videos illustrating the devastating impact hate crimes have on individuals and communities, answers frequently asked questions about the bill, and provides users with the tools to directly contact their members of Congress to urge them to support the legislation.

The new site also links to, another HRC site that confronts right-wing lies and distortions repeatedly used to defeat LGBT equality measures.

Such lies have repeatedly been used against the Matthew Shepard Act. A common claim is that if hate crimes laws are passed, pastors will be prosecuted for preaching what the Bible says about homosexuality. In fact, groups such as the High Impact Leadership Coalition have placed paid advertisements in newspapers claiming the legislation would, "bring a chilling effect to the free speech and religious liberty of our churches and of our members." However, pastors will not be held liable for hate crimes based on preaching anti-gay sermons. The First Amendment protects a preacher from being charged as an accessory to a hate crime simply because of their speech. The Matthew Shepard Act only punishes violent crimes, not a person's speech, beliefs or thoughts.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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