The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Vaishalee Raja, Communications Director,PHONE: (916) 284-9187,EMAIL:,

State of California Urges Passage of Federal Hate Crimes Law

EQCA Sponsored Resolutions Put California on Record in Support of Matthew Shepard Act


State of California officially endorsed a federal law combating hate
crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
individuals today when the state Senate passed the Federal Hate Crimes
Resolution. The State Assembly passed a companion measure in June.
Together, the resolutions, sponsored by Equality California (EQCA),
call 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.

The Assembly version, introduced by Assemblymember Pedro Nava (D-Santa
Barbara), passed by a strong 53-13 bipartisan vote. The identical
Senate version of the resolution, introduced by Senator Christine Kehoe
(D-San Diego), passed 22-6, also by a bipartisan vote.

"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 same."

On April 29th of this year, the U.S. House passed the Matthew Shepard
Act by a vote of 249 to 175. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a
companion bill as early as tomorrow.

"California has already passed state laws against hate crimes," said
Senator Kehoe. "Now is the time for our federal government to do the
same so we can better protect all people, including members of the LGBT

"Californians believe every human being is entitled to the same basic
dignity and protection under the law," said Assemblymember Nava. "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

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. The resolution also
urges President Barack 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,

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.