Task Force: Signing of Hate Crimes Measure Is Historic

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Inga Sarda-Sorensen, Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463
isorensen@theTaskForce.org

Task Force: Signing of Hate Crimes Measure Is Historic

"Laws embody the values of our nation, and through the enactment of this hate crimes law, our country has — once and for all — sent a clear and unequivocal message that it rejects and condemns all forms of hate violence, including crimes motivated by hatred of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people."

WASHINGTON - President Obama today signed federal hate crimes legislation
into law. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes
Prevention Act will help protect people against violence based on
sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, gender, national
origin and disability by extending the federal hate crimes statute. It
will provide critical federal resources to state and local agencies to
equip local officers with the tools they need to prosecute hate crimes.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey will
attend the commemorative event later today at the White House.

The Task Force has been a key leader in the effort to secure an
effective and full government response to hate crimes against lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the United States,
beginning with the launch of its groundbreaking anti-violence project
in 1982, up to today's victory. Get more details here about the Task Force's longtime work on hate crimes.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"Today marks a historic milestone for lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender people, and for the entire country. With the president's
signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes
Prevention Act, both sexual orientation and gender identity have, for
the first time in U.S. history, been explicitly included in federal law.

"It has taken over a decade of perseverance to get to this momentous
day, and we thank all those who have worked to achieve this incredible
victory. Laws embody the values of our nation, and through the
enactment of this hate crimes law, our country has - once and for all -
sent a clear and unequivocal message that it rejects and condemns all
forms of hate violence, including crimes motivated by hatred of
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

"We look forward to the days ahead when we will join together again
to celebrate full equality and recognition of our community, including
in employment, the military and in the full recognition of our
families. The Task Force is committed to the work necessary to bring
full equality to the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
people. We know that we have much work ahead of us. Today, we must
pause and shine a light on this critical first step taken by Congress,
and the willingness of this president to follow through on his promise
to sign this legislation ensuring the laws of the land will protect all
of us."

More on the Task Force's work on hate crimes legislation

  • Passage of hate crimes legislation stems from decades of work, much of it spearheaded by the Task Force, including:
  • In 1982, the Task Force founded the groundbreaking
    anti-violence project, the first national organizing project for
    anti-LGBT hate crimes.
  • In 1990, the Task Force secured the Hate Crimes Statistics
    Act, which included sexual orientation, in large part justified by the
    Task Force's own statistics on hate crimes. The Hate Crimes Statistics
    Act was pushed so that national data could build the foundation for a
    hate crimes law.
  • Murders and arsons, some anti-LGBT and others based on race
    and other characteristics, led President Bill Clinton to call for a
    White House Summit on Hate Crimes in 1997, attended by then-Task Force
    Executive Director Kerry Lobel, where she delivered a petition signed
    by LGBT people all over the country asking for a serious response to
    anti-LGBT hate crimes. Out of this meeting, the Hate Crimes Prevention
    Act (the predecessor to today's legislation) was written; it fixed
    several problems with the existing hate crimes law on race, religion
    and national origin, and added sexual orientation, gender and
    disability to the law.
  • In 2001, the Task Force started its work to add gender
    identity to the bill. Over the course of years and bringing along
    coalition partners, the Task Force secured a "gender identity" addition
    into the House legislation in 2005, with the Senate bill becoming
    transgender-inclusive in 2007.
  • The Task Force continued to advocate for the bill's passage, repeatedly activating its membership.
  • In 2009, when the hate crimes bill was added to the Department
    of Defense authorization bill and a death penalty provision was added
    in the Senate, the Task Force spoke out about the immorality of
    inclusion of the death penalty and activated its grassroots to urge the
    provision be struck from the final language. The conference committee
    ultimately removed the capital punishment language.
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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force builds the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, building the organizational capacity of our movement and generating groundbreaking research through our Policy Institute.

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