WASHINGTON, D.C. (Observer Update) - The Human Rights Campaign, announced a coalition campaign to call Congress in support of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would provide local police and sheriff’s departments with federal resources to combat hate violence. After more than a decade of lobbying on Capitol Hill and seven successful votes on the bill, this critical piece of legislation is again expected to see a vote in the House this week. The call-in campaign is set for April 27-29.
“We've received word that the House will vote on the Matthew Shepard Act very soon and we know that right-wing groups are flooding Congress with calls, emails and sickening ‘fact sheets’ full of lies about the lives of LGBT Americans,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We need more calls to Members of Congress, and we need them right away. It has been ten long years and tens of thousands more victims since the Matthew Shepard Act was first introduced in Congress. We are poised for a presidential signature this year but lies from the radical right could easily derail our efforts. We must not allow them to continue to demagogue and distort the truth.”
It takes about 45 seconds. Members of the community are urged to call 202-224-3121. Callers are urged to tell the Member’s office:
• Hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are on the rise. One out of every six hate crimes is because of the victim's sexual orientation.
• Hate crimes have more than one victim. They are intended to create an atmosphere of fear and terrorize entire communities.
• The Matthew Shepard Act targets only violent acts – not speech. It does not tell any clergy member what he or she can or can't preach.
Because there is no federal law mandating states and municipalities to report hate crimes, they are often underreported. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s own statistics, based on voluntary reporting, show that since 1991 over 100,000 hate crime offenses have been reported to the FBI, with 7,624 reported in 2007, the FBI’s most recent reporting period. Violent crimes based on sexual orientation constituted 16.6 percent of all hate crimes in 2007, with 1,265 reported for the year. In addition, while not captured in the federal statistics, transgender Americans too often live in fear of violence.
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.
A wide coalition of national organizations has called for the passage of the LLEHCPA legislation. Some of those organizations supporting this legislation include: the National Sheriffs Association; International Association of Chiefs of Police; 26 state Attorneys General; the National District Attorneys Association; the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; the Anti-Defamation League; the NAACP; the National Council of La Raza; the Presbyterian Church; the Episcopal Church; and the National Disability Rights Network.
To take action to support the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes PreventionAct, please visit: www.FightHateNow.org
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