The House of Representatives has passed fully inclusive hate crimes legislation. The bill has been introduced in the Senate already and is expected to pass soon. Obama has pledged to sign it (and urged the House to pass HR 1913).
The bill passed 249 to 175. Ten Congress members didn't vote.
Statements from orgs posted after the jump as they come in.
PFLAG Celebrates House Passage of Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Organization Urges the Senate to Approve "Critically Important" Legislation
Washington, DC - Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) applauded today's vote, in the House of Representatives, approving The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would add sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability status to the federal hate crimes statute. The House approved the measure by a vote of 249 to 175, and similar legislation was introduced on Tuesday in the Senate. President Obama has expressed his strong support for the bill, and urged lawmakers to support it.
"The critically important bill approved by the House today would give law enforcement officials a powerful weapon in battling the nearly 1,000 anti-gay and transgender hate crimes reported each year, and give victims and their families hope that our country will finally take serious steps to curb those attacks," said Jody M. Huckaby, PFLAG's executive director. "Too many families have lost a loved one to hate, and this bill would ensure that, moving forward, other families will be able to more easily seek, and find, justice in bias-motivated cases. This measure, which was supported by 31 attorneys general and more than 200 organizations from both sides of the political aisle, is long overdue and urgently needed. PFLAG families urge the Senate to quickly approve the measure as well, and send the bill to President Obama for his signature."
Hate crimes against the LGBT community increased 24 percent nationwide in 2007, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Especially startling increases occurred in Michigan (up 207 percent), Minnesota (up 135 percent) and even in Los Angeles, which saw a 100 percent increase in anti-gay violence. Anti-gay murders also doubled during the same period, the coalition reported.
PFLAG recently launched an online petition, in conjunction with the mother of Sean Kennedy, a young man in South Carolina who was brutally attacked and killed outside of a gay bar, urging lawmakers to approve the hate crimes bill. More than 9,300 people used the petition to contact Congress in support of the measure.
"There is no more important action our elected leaders can take than to protect those we love, and this law does just that," Huckaby said. "For the countless families who have lost loved ones to hate, it cannot reach the President's desk soon enough."
U.S. House Passes Inclusive Hate Crimes Bill
Updates to Federal Law Would Strengthen Law Enforcement Ability to Investigate, Prosecute Hate Crimes
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign - the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization - hailed today's bipartisan vote of 249-175 in the U.S. House passing the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known in the U.S. Senate as the Matthew Shepard Act.
"All Americans are one step closer to protection from hate violence thanks to today's vote," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Hate crimes are a scourge on our communities and it's time we give law enforcement the tools they need to combat this serious problem."
"No one should face violence simply because of who they are," said Judy Shepard, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. "This bill is a critical step to erasing the hate that has devastated far too many families."
Yesterday the White House released a statement from President Obama calling for passage in the House and urging the Senate to follow with swift action. Along with the President, more than 300 law enforcement, civil rights and religious organizations support the bill.
"The Senate should heed the President's leadership and quickly pass the Matthew Shepard Act," said Solmonese. "After more than ten years and tens of thousands of victims, there should be no delay in passing this bill into law."
This is the eighth successful vote on a federal hate crimes bill which - following a veto threat from former President Bush - died in the last Congress.
"Fair-minded leaders in Congress have for years stood strong against lies about the bill and we are grateful for their efforts," continued Solmonese. "The leadership of Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer and Majority Whip Clyburn as well as Reps. Conyers, Kirk, Baldwin, Frank, and Polis made this incredible victory possible."
Working in coalition with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Human Rights Campaign mobilized its members to support the bill. The website www.FightHateNow.org gives users opportunities to contact their member of Congress, watch video testimonials on hate crimes and learn the truth about the legislation. The site will continue as a clearinghouse for information leading up to Senate action.
The LLEHCPA gives the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It provides the Justice Department with the ability to aid state and local jurisdictions either by lending assistance or, where local authorities are unwilling or unable, by taking the lead in investigations and prosecutions of violent crime resulting in death or serious bodily injury that were motivated by bias. It also makes grants available to state and local communities to combat violent crimes committed by juveniles, train law enforcement officers, or to assist in state and local investigations and prosecutions of bias motivated crimes.
Stonewall Democrats Hail House Passage of Hate Crimes Legislation
Obama White House Lobbied for Passage of Bill
Washington, DC - Today, the Stonewall Democrats applauded the passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act by the United States House of Representatives. The legislation passed the House of Representatives with a 249 to 175 vote. 231 Democrats voted in favor of the legislation with 17 voting against. 18 Republicans voted for the legislation with 158 voting against.
"Stonewall Democrats thanks President Obama and the Democratic Leadership for their strong support which ultimately led to the passage of this legislation," said Jon Hoadley, Executive Director of the Stonewall Democrats. "We now have a President who is willing to sign this crucial legislation into law and that is why we continue to build support for its passage in the United States Senate. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act would close legal loopholes which treats violence targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as less important that crimes committed on the basis of other factors. This legislation gives local law enforcement agencies the tools that they need to equally prosecute bias motivated crimes."
On Tuesday, the White House urged lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. In a statement to lawmakers and the press, President Obama said "This week, the House of Representatives is expected to consider H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance - legislation that will enhance civil rights protections, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association. I also urge the Senate to work with my Administration to finalize this bill and to take swift action."
With more than 120 local chapters the Stonewall Democrats is the national organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and allied Democrats. Stonewall Democrats works to elect pro-equality Democrats to public office and improve the Democratic Party on issues important to pro-equality Americans.
People for the American Way:
House Passes Hate Crimes Legislation
The House of Representatives today passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 by a bipartisan vote of 249 to 175. The legislation protects individuals from violent crimes motivated by victims' sexual orientation, disability status, gender or gender identity. The legislation still needs to be approved by the Senate.
People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan issued the following statement:
"I applaud the House for passing this legislation. Hate crimes remain all too common in this county, and it's important that the federal government take strong stand to ensure that no one is subjected to the threat of violence because of who they are.
"I'm especially pleased that this bill contains strong First Amendment protections to ensure that no one's right to free expression will ever be affected by this law. All Americans have a right to live in safety, and all Americans have a right to speak, preach, and worship freely. This legislation helps ensure both of those goals.
"I want to thank the members of People For's African American Ministers In Action program who worked so hard to help pass this legislation. Their voices were crucial in pushing back against the dishonest attacks of those who wanted to derail this legislation.
"Now that the House of Representatives has acted, it's time for the Senate to do the same and send this bill to President Obama's desk."
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund hails
U.S. House passage of federal hate crimes legislation
WASHINGTON, April 29 -- The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund hails the U.S. House's passage today of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1913), which includes a key provision that would expand existing federal hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Task Force has been a key leader in the effort to secure an effective and full government response to hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the United States, beginning with the launch of its groundbreaking anti-violence project in 1982, up to today's victory in the House. Get more details here about the Task Force's longtime work on hate crimes.
Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
"Our country is on the cusp of recognizing and responding to the reality of hate violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. It is a national embarrassment that bigotry and ignorance have prevented enactment of substantive federal hate crimes legislation, but that goal is finally, truly, within our grasp.
"Laws embody the values of our nation, and through this legislation the House is clearly and unequivocally saying that America rejects and condemns hate violence against its people. The importance of this cannot be overstated, particularly in light of the toxic misinformation campaign that has been waged against the bill by right-wing forces who would rather see anti-LGBT crimes go unaddressed than have the words 'sexual orientation' or 'gender identity' appear alongside other protected classes in federal law.
"We thank all the House members who voted for this bill today. We urge the administration to help usher this critical legislation through the Senate, and for President Obama to then quickly sign the legislation, as he has signaled he will do."