Equality California Hails Signing of Federal Hate Crimes Law

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Vaishalee Raja, Communications Director
PHONE: (916) 284-9187
EMAIL: vaishalee@eqca.org

Equality California Hails Signing of Federal Hate Crimes Law

WASHINGTON - Equality
California hailed the signing today of the Matthew Shepard and James
Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a federal law combating hate
crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
individuals.

"We
are thrilled that President Obama has signed this fundamental piece of
legislation, which ensures that the federal government will fulfill its
obligation to protect all people of this nation, including LGBT
people," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “We applaud the
President and Congress for joining California in standing up against
violence based on hate. We are especially grateful to Assemblymember
Pedro Nava who authored the hate crimes resolution this year, former
Senator Sheila Kuehl who authored the original California Hate Crimes
Law and the LGBT Caucus and legislators who supported the numerous hate
crimes bills and resolutions passed in California.”

Earlier
this year, Equality California sponsored companion resolutions that
call on the United States Congress to immediately pass and President
Obama to sign the Matthew Shepard Act, which expands the landmark 1969
United States federal hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by a
victim's real or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity
and disability.

“The
President believes every human being is entitled to equality and the
same dignity and protection under the law,” said Assemblymember Pedro
Nava (D-Santa Barbara). “Signing this crucial legislation will help
curb violence against the LGBT community and provide needed resources
and funding to local law enforcement.”

The
federal bill, also known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes
Prevention Act, is named after Matthew Shepard, the gay University of
Wyoming student who was targeted, tortured and brutally murdered by two
men in 1998 because of his sexual orientation.

Thanks
to the work of EQCA and its predecessors, California is one of 32
states (including the District of Columbia) where sexual orientation is
already included in state hate crimes laws and one of only 11 states
where gender identity is included. EQCA has consistently led efforts to
strengthen the state's anti-discrimination laws, including sponsoring
2004's Omnibus Hate Crimes Act, 2006's Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims
Act and 2007's Student Civil Rights Act.

For more information about EQCA's legislation, visit http://www.eqca.org/legislation.

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Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians.

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