Friday, April 13, 2007

Hate Crimes Legislation Going to Senate

The Matthew Shepard Act is going to the Senate. From 365Gay:

(Washington) Legislation to included crimes against gays and lesbians in federal hate crime laws was reintroduced in the Senate Thursday.

A similar bill was reintroduced in the House last month.

The measure passed the House in the last Congress but was dropped in the then Republican-controlled Senate last year. ...

The Senate version was filed Thursday by Sens. Ted Kennedy (D) and Gordon Smith (R)
Kennedy has been trying to get the measure passed since 1999.

In the last session he tacked it onto a national sex offender bill. He was forced to
pulled it after Republicans threatened to block passage of the sex offender legislation and pin the blame on "liberal Democrats" and gay activists. ...

One in six of these crimes is motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation. And,
many others are motivated by the victim’s gender identity, gender, or disability.

"Entire groups of people are being terrorized simply because of who they are."

Extending hate crimes law to include members of the LGBT community is endorsed by more than 210 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organizations, including: the National Sheriffs' Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

The legislation also is strongly supported by the majority of Americans, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by Peter Hart Research Associates, found three in four voters favor strengthening hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity and to give local law enforcement the tools they need to prevent and prosecute these violent acts based on bigotry.

The poll found that support came from of every major subgroup of the electorate — including such traditionally conservative groups as Republican men and evangelical Christians..

Support also crosses racial lines.

HRC has a Take Action page that lets you direct a letter (that you can edit) to your (looks like House) representative. You can locate and contact your Senators here. Congresspeople do get notified and take note when they get communications from their constituents. Even a small note can make a difference.