Civil Rights Coalition Applauds Introduction of Hate Crimes Bill

Media 05.1.03

Washington – A bill extending hate crime protections to cover gender, sexual orientation, and disability and strengthen current federal hate crimes law against crimes motivated by a person’s race, religion, or national origin was introduced in the Senate today. The bill, the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2003, has broad bipartisan support and sponsorship in the Senate.

“By recognizing hate crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation, disability, or gender, and strengthening the laws dealing with all hate crimes, Congress will take an important step toward protecting all Americans from senseless violence,” said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition.

“States can and should continue to play the primary role in the prosecution of hate crime violence, but the federal government must be able to address those cases in which local authorities are either unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute,” said Henderson. “Enhanced federal jurisdiction will provide an important complement to state jurisdiction, allowing law enforcement authorities a broad range of options to achieve justice and assist states in investigating and prosecuting their own cases.”

Current hate crime law does not reach many cases where individuals motivated by hate kill or injure others. This bill would strengthen the federal response to hate crimes motivated by race, color, religion, or national origin and extend the law to cover crimes targeting people based on their gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

“LCCR applauds Senate sponsors of the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2003 for their leadership in introducing a bill that includes important protections against hate-motivated violence,” concluded Henderson. “We urge Congress to move quickly to pass this legislation.”