For Immediate Release

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Vaishalee Raja, Communications Director
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Federal Hate Crimes Resolution Passes Assembly Committee

EQCA Sponsored Bill Will Put Assembly on Record in Support of Matthew Shepard Act

California State Assembly Committee on Public Safety advanced the
Federal Hate Crimes Resolution today by a vote of 4-0. The resolution,
sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and introduced last month by
Assemblymember Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), calls on the United States
Senate to immediately pass 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.

"It is time the
federal government fulfills its obligation to protect and empower the
people of this nation, including LGBT people," said EQCA Executive
Director Geoff Kors. "We applaud the U.S. House for passing this
necessary legislation and now look to the Senate to immediately do the

Once passed, the resolution will put the Assembly on record in support
of the federal bill, which also provides immediate and necessary
federal assistance to local law enforcement investigating and
prosecuting hate crimes committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) persons, among others.

On April 29th of this year, the U.S. House passed the Matthew Shepard
Act by a vote of 249 to 175. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has
already introduced the companion bill in the United States Senate that
has garnered 43 co-sponsors including California Senators Dianne
Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both Democrats. The bill has been referred
to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee where it has not yet received a
hearing date.

"Californians believe every human being is entitled to the same basic
dignity and protection under the law," said Assemblymember Nava upon
introducing the bill. "Our President and our Senate must make this
crucial legislation into law to both help our local law enforcement and
curb violence against the LGBT community."

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 he was gay. The resolution before the Assembly also
urges President Barak Obama to sign the federal legislation immediately
following its passage by both Houses of Congress.

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. More information on these
bills and EQCA's other work combating hate crimes can be found on
EQCA's website,

The resolution now moves to the Assembly floor where it awaits a full vote.


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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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