The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Brad Luna | Phone: 202/216.1514
Trevor Thomas | Phone: 202/216.1547

Human Rights Campaign Launches Website to Kick Off Campaign to Pass Federal Hate Crimes Legislation provides up-to-the-minute updates on bill’s progress with opportunities for voters to take action

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender civil rights organization, today launched a website to
arm voters with tools to help pass overdue federal hate crimes
legislation. The site, includes
testimonials, up-to-the minute updates on Congressional action, and
specific action voters can take to ensure its passage.
Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA), also known
as the Matthew Shepard Act, would give the Justice Department the power
to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the
department with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the victim
is chosen because of the person's actual or perceived race, color,
religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity
or disability.
year, thousands of Americans are violently attacked simply because they
are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. As Congress moves to
consider the Matthew Shepard Act, anti-gay, extremist groups are
gearing up to pump out an avalanche of lies about the intent of this
legislation," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "
will not only counter those distortions, it will arm supporters to take
direct action. After more than a decade of delay, it's time for
Congress to provide local police and sheriffs' departments with the
tools and resources they need to investigate and prosecute these
new website also features photos and videos illustrating the
devastating impact hate crimes have on individuals and communities,
answers frequently asked questions aboutthe bill, and provides users
with the tools to directly contact their members of Congress to urge
them to support the legislation.
The new site also links to, another HRC site that confronts right-wing lies and distortions repeatedly used to defeat LGBT equality measures.
lies have repeatedly been used against the Matthew Shepard Act. A
common claim is that if hate crimes laws are passed, pastors will be
prosecuted for preaching what the Bible says about homosexuality. In
fact, groups such as the High Impact Leadership Coalition have placed
paid advertisements in newspapers claiming the legislation would,
"bring a chilling effect to the free speech and religious liberty of
our churches and of our members." However, pastors will not be held
liable for hate crimes based on preaching anti-gay sermons. The First
Amendment protects a preacher from being charged as an accessory to a
hate crime simply because of their speech. The Matthew Shepard Act only
punishes violent crimes, not a person's speech, beliefs or thoughts.

The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of over 750,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where LGBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.