Senate approves hate crimes bill


Press releases from Jewish groups are pouring in this afternoon celebrating Senate passage of hate-crimes legislation. After its passage earlier this month, all that remains is for President Obama to sign it into law.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act would expand the federal definition of hate 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.

The legislation was attached to the 2010 Defense Department authorization bill, which passed 68-29, but the key vote was a 64-35 vote to end a potential filibuster by opponents of the legislation. The bill passed the House earlier in the month and President Obama has said he will sign it.

The Anti-Defamation League, the National Council of Jewish Women, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Religious Action Center and National Jewish Democratic Council have all released statements lauding the bill’s approval, which they have been working on for mored than a decade.

After the jump, the statement from the ADL, the group that has led advocacy in the Jewish community on the legislation:[[READMORE]]

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today hailed the Senate’s passage of a national hate crimes bill as a “landmark achievement.”

The House of Representatives approved the legislation on October 8, and President Obama has said he will sign the measure, which provides new authority for federal officials to more effectively address hate violence.

Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
The Senate’s final approval of the Hate Crime Prevention Act is a landmark achievement in the decades-long effort to combat hate violence – and cause for celebration. This legislation is the most important, comprehensive and inclusive federal hate crime law enacted in the past 40 years. We look forward to President Obama signing it into law.
Hate crimes are a very real problem in our society. When victims are targeted for their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other immutable characteristics, the attack also affects a broader community.
The United States Congress is sending a strong message that bias-motivated attacks are unacceptable and warrant serious, sustained efforts to address them.
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act (HCPA) passed the Senate as part of the FY 2010 Department of Defense Authorization Conference Report, by a vote of 68-29. The key vote was on a motion to end a possible filibuster by opponents of the hate crime provisions, which passed 64-35.

ADL expressed appreciation to the House and Senate Leadership and praised the persistence and determination 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.
ADL has been privileged to lead a broad coalition of civil rights, religious, educational, professional, law enforcement, and civic organizations working in support of this legislation for more than a decade.

ADL has been a pioneer in advocating for hate crimes legislation since the League’s first 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.

Recommended from JTA