FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | July 17, 2009
The National Center for Lesbian Rights Hails Senate Action on Hate Crimes Bill
Final Senate vote yet to come
(San Francisco, California, July 17, 2009)—The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) applauds the United States Senate for taking action and voting to expand hate crimes protections. Late Thursday, the Senate voted 63 to 28 in a procedural vote to move to the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (bill number S.909), which is an amendment to the defense spending bill. The vote blocks a potential filibuster and clears the way for a final Senate vote, which is expected next week.
Valley Club Director John Duesler asked the Creative Steps group to leave and later reimbursed the dues they paid to utilize the club facilities. Duesler is quoted as saying the presence of the children at the club changed the “atmosphere” and the “complexion” of the club. Later, the club posted a statement on their website continuing to justify their actions stating they were over capacity and that the children were turned away for safety.
The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act gives the Justice Department the authority to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated crimes where the victim has been targeted because of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability and to provide state and local authorities with federal resources to investigate and prosecute these crimes.
“This is a major step to passing this long overdue legislation,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “We urge final passage of this measure to send a clear message that hate violence anywhere in the country is illegal, and will not be tolerated.”
The bill was introduced in the Senate on April 28, 2009 by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), among others. At the June 25, 2009 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testified that the Obama administration strongly supported the bill, stating, “The President and I seek swift passage of this legislation because hate crimes victimize not only individuals, but entire communities.”
Since this bill covering both sexual orientation and gender identity was introduced in 2007, hate-motivated crimes against LGBT people have continued to rise—federal statistics continuously show that crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity are the third highest recorded bias crime in the country.
On April 29, 2009, the House of Representatives voted 249 to 175 to pass the Hate Crimes Bill (H.R. 1913), also known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act/The Matthew Shepard Act.
NCLR has long supported passage of this key measure, and has worked to draw public attention to the severe problem of hate violence and to provide grassroots and other support for the legislation.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.