After a decade of work by advocates, it’s looking like legislation to strengthen federal hate crime laws is finally headed for passage.
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act passed Thursday afternoon in the House as part of the defense appropriations bill and now moves on to the Senate. The legislationwould permit greater federal involvement in investigating hate crimes and expand the federal definition of such crimes to include those motivated by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. Supporters say the legislation would allow federal authorities to pursue hate-crimes cases when local authorities are either unable or unwilling to do so.
President Obama has said he would sign the bill.
The Anti-Defamation League, the leader among many Jewish organizations pressing for its passage, applauded the vote, calling it a "monumental victory."
This legislation is the most important, comprehensive and inclusive federal hate crime law enacted in the past 40 years, and we look forward to Senate approval," said ADL national chair Glen Lewy and national director Abraham Foxman in a statement. The full release is after the jump:[[READMORE]]
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today hailed final House approval of legislation to strengthen existing federal hate crime laws.
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act (HCPA), which provides new authority for federal officials to more effectively address hate violence, will next head to the Senate floor for approval, before it goes to President Barack Obama’s desk.
Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
The House’s final approval of the Hate Crime Prevention Act marks a monumental victory in the decades-long effort to combat hate crimes. This legislation is the most important, comprehensive and inclusive federal hate crime law enacted in the past 40 years, and we look forward to Senate approval.
This victory is the direct result of persistent efforts to educate members of Congress about the nature and impact of hate violence in America. It was achieved thanks to strong support from a broad coalition of civil rights, education, religious and law enforcement organizations.
The end of the legislative path for the hate crimes bill also marks the beginning of the next campaign — training prosecutors and law enforcement officials about the new law. ADL stands ready to help lead that continuing effort.
The legislation passed the House as part of the FY 2010 Department of Defense Authorization Conference Report, by a vote of 281-146.
The HCPA, first introduced in 1997, provides new authority for federal officials to work in partnership with state and local law enforcement to more effectively address hate violence. The measure also provides authority for the federal government to prosecute some violent bias-motivated crimes directed against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Current federal law does not provide sufficient authority for involvement in these cases.
ADL expressed appreciation for the leadership and persistence of congressional champions of the hate crime legislation over the years – in the Senate: the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Carl Levin (D-MI), author of the Defense Department bill, and former Senator Gordon Smith. Leaders in the House of Representatives over the years who deserve recognition include: Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Jerry Nadler (D-NY).
The support of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., provided the critical final piece to secure enactment of this essential legislation.
The League presented testimony at Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in June on the HCPA and collaborated with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights on a comprehensive report on hate crimes in America earlier this year.
ADL has been a pioneer in advocating for hate crimes legislation since the first ADL model hate crimes statute was drafted almost 30 years ago. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws based on or similar to the ADL model.