By a 65-10 vote, the New Jersey Assembly today approved legislation making the state’s anti-bullying and hate crimes laws two of the strongest in the country by making transgender-inclusion unequivocal and significantly bolstering the two laws’ enforcement mechanisms. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund partnered with Garden State Equality and the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey to provide drafting and strategy support for the measure. The legislation passed the state Senate last Thursday by a 35-0 vote. Gov. Jon Corzine’s administration testified in support of the legislation and the governor is expected to sign it into law.
On the heels of a year that closed with Congress stripping transgender people out of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and pulling LGBT hate crimes protections from the Department of Defense authorization bill, this is an important and much-needed victory. New Jersey has long been a national leader on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, but today rises to the top with two of the strongest hate crimes and safe schools laws in the country and unequivocal protections for transgender people.
New Jersey has long been a national leader on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, but today rises to the top with two of the strongest hate crimes and safe schools laws in the country and unequivocal protections for transgender people.
New Jersey will become the 12th state with a transgender-inclusive hate crimes law when this measure is signed into law. The measure also improves existing hate crimes provisions by mandating two hours of training on hate crimes for all new police officers and offering non-sentence penalty options to judges, such as anti-hate sensitivity training for convicted defendants.
Additionally, although New Jersey already is among five other states and the District of Columbia that have transgender-inclusive safe schools laws, today’s legislation makes New Jersey’s safe-schools law among the strongest in the nation. It expands existing law to require schools to post and distribute their anti-bullying policies and by creating a Commission on Bullying in Schools to investigate bullying and make recommendations to the governor and legislature for future legislation.
In 2006, New Jersey included express protections based on gender identity/expression in its nondiscrimination laws.
We applaud Garden State Equality, the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey Anti-Defamation League, the New Jersey Educational Association and state lawmakers who forged ahead to launch 2008 with such a positive and fair-minded act. We look forward to Gov. Corzine’s signature on this important legislation.