For Immediate Release
Lawyers' Committee Applauds U.S. Senate's Passage of Critical Landmark Hate Crimes Bill
WASHINGTON - Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Executive
Director Barbara Arnwine released the statement below regarding the
U.S. Senate's passage yesterday of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd
Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act:
"The Lawyers' Committee
has worked extensively since its founding to safeguard the rights of
those victimized due to race, religion, sexual orientation, actual or
perceived gender identity, or disability status," said Ms. Arnwine.
"We commend policymakers for advancing legislation which recognizes the
human and civil rights of all Americans. We have worked as a community
for over a decade to pass this historic piece of legislation. This is
a beacon of light to all those who have been the target of hate crimes
throughout the years."
The Senate's overwhelming approval vote (68-29) of the Matthew
Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expands
the definition of federal hate crimes and removes unnecessary obstacles
to federal prosecution, signals the Act being signed into law by
President Obama in the near future.
"This significant legislation is a major step in the right direction
in preventing brutality and death as endured by Matthew Shepard, James
Byrd Jr. and many others across this nation and provides the capacity
for the federal government to properly prosecute hate crimes," Ms.
Arnwine added. "Everyone has the right of protection and to be safe
and free from physical harm or intimidation. I am overjoyed with the
passage of this bill and look forward to working with U.S. Attorney
General Holder Jr. and the Department of Justice to ensure proper
enforcement of this important civil rights law."
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The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law.