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Hate Crime Bill Clears Major Hurdle in U.S. Congress

HRC Lauds House of Representatives for Historic Vote

Elizabeth Birch: 'Hate Crime Law is within Our Grasp'

Compiled by GayToday

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. House of Representatives was lauded yesterday for its historic vote in favor of hate crime legislation. The Human Rights Campaign noted that the move represents the first time both the House and Senate have voted in favor of comprehensive hate crime legislation and clears the way for a hate crime law to be enacted by the end of the year. jconyers.jpg - 9.51 K Rep. John Conyers

"This monumental vote represents enormous progress and has brought a comprehensive hate crime law within our grasp," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. "We are so close to being able to protect hate crime victims and their families, but we will not rest until the president signs this bill."

In June, the Senate voted 57 to 42 to pass the language of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA)--renamed the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2000 - as an amendment to the Department of Defense (DoD) authorization bill.

Rep. John Conyers,(Democrat-Michigan)., filed yesterday what is known as a "motion to instruct," that directs the House conferees to retain the hate crime legislation that passed the Senate in the DoD bill.

The House voted 232-192 -- including 41 Republicans--in favor of this motion which marked the first ever House vote on including sexual orientation in comprehensive federal hate crime legislation. 192 Members of the House have cosponsored the legislation (H.R. 1082).

Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:

GayToday's Hate Crimes Series

Action Alert: Pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Rising Tide of Anti-Gay Bigotry Documented by PFAW

Related Sites:
Human Rights Campaign

Anti-Violence Project

GayToday does not endorse related sites.

A new poll released yesterday by the Garin-Hart-Yang-Research Group shows that hate crime legislation is widely supported by the public. According to the poll, nearly 66 percent of voters say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who voted against legislation to "strengthen the prosecution of violent hate crimes motivated by prejudice against race, religion, gender or sexual orientation of the victim." A plurality of 44 percent of voters said they would be "much less likely to vote for a candidate who opposed hate crime legislation."

"Hate crime legislation is a winner with the public and members of Congress who supported this legislation will be rewarded at the polls, while those who did not will find they have a lot of explaining to do before Election Day," said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg.

In anticipation of this vote, President Clinton spoke at a White House East Room ceremony today in support of the legislation. In addition, key supporters of hate crime legislation gathered yesterday for a press conference on Capitol Hill. Press conference participants included House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo.; Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.; Rep. Connie Morrella, R-Md.; Judy Shepard, mother of hate crime victim Matthew; and Cmdr. David O'Malley, Laramie, Wyo. Police Department.

If passed he bill would extend current federal hate crime protection - which covers race, religion, color and national origin -- to gender, sexual orientation and disability. It would serve as a tool to help law enforcement by allowing federal assistance, when necessary, in the investigation and prosecutions of hate crimes. This legislation has broad support from notable law enforcement agencies and state and local leaders including 22 state attorneys general, the Police Foundation and the National Sheriff's Association.

A coalition of organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, and the American Association of University Women are leading the lobbying effort to pass hate crime legislation.

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