Families of Hate Crimes Victims Rally with Advocates to Launch Web-Based Campaign Aimed at Securing House Passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Wade Henderson, Executive Director of LCCR, stated, “Last month, the Senate voted in overwhelming bipartisan fashion to strengthen the federal hate-crime law. Thirteen Republicans joined with all but one Democrat in supporting the measure. Since that time, bipartisan momentum has been building for the House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass hate crimes legislation:
In late June, the New York State Legislature passed a hate crimes bill by a 48-12 margin, including support of 24 of the 36 Republican senators. New York’s Governor George Pataki signed the legislation into law on July 10th.
Also in June, Tennessee’s Republican Governor Don Sundquist signed into law an addition to the sentencing guidelines that allows for increased penalties in crimes motivated by hatred for the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, nationality, handicap, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
On July 12th, a bipartisan coalition of House and Senate Members held a bicameral press conference urging the House to pass Hate Crimes legislation. Among those who participated were Senators Jim Jeffords (R-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Representative Constance Morrella (R-MD).
The message from these events is clear: the time has come for the House, in similar bipartisan fashion, to strengthen the federal hate crimes law. While bigotry cannot be legislated out of existence, a forceful, moral response to hate violence is required of us all.”
“To the extent that the members of the House fail to follow the Senate’s lead,’ Henderson warned, “they do so at their own peril. United Against Hate will be there every step of the way to remind the public who supports strengthening the federal hate crimes statute and who does not.”
Central to the United Against Hate campaign is a new web site, www.UnitedAgainstHate.org, that will help mobilize and energize the grassroots over the August recess. Specifically, the web site will help coordinate local United Against Hate coalition events all across the nation. www.UnitedAgainstHate.org represents the first time the broad civil and human rights community has collectively leveraged Internet technology to mount a coordinated grassroots advocacy campaign. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act would strengthen existing current hate crimes law against race and religion-based crimes and extend current law to cover sexual orientation, gender, and disability. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HR 1082 has bipartisan support from 57 Senators, 192 Representatives; 22 state attorneys general; and over 175 law enforcement, civil rights, civic, and religious organizations.