JCPA: Senators Give Final Congressional Approval for Enhanced Hate Crime Laws

by Jared Feldman

WASHINGTON - With final congressional approval of enhanced hate crime laws, the new challenge is in teaching tolerance for all, said a leading Jewish advocacy organization.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) today applauded members of the U.S. Senate for approving the conference report of the FY2010 Defense Authorization Act.  This legislation gives final congressional approval to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, legislation which expands federal hate crime laws to provide better protection for vulnerable populations and increases resources to assist local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to deter, investigate and prosecute hate crimes.  This legislation also expands the definition of a hate crime to include violent crimes based on gender, gender-identity, sexual orientation and disability.

Read more

Small Town Killing Puts Foucs on Crimes Against Latinos

by Jennie Smith

Small town killing puts focus on crimes against Latinos

By Jacinth Planer

SHENANDOAH, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Crystal Dillman says she will never understand why a group of teenage boys beat her fiancé to death.

She says she will spend the rest of her life seeking answers -- and justice -- for the man she has lost as she struggles alone to raise her three young children.

"My life is forever destroyed," said Dillman, who was 24 at the time of her fiancé's death. "My family is forever destroyed."

Her fiancé, Luis Ramirez, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, was walking down the street in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, on July 12, 2008, with Dillman's half-sister, who is white.

A fight broke out between him and a group of white high school football players. He died from his injuries two days later, leaving a small community stunned at the brutality of the crime.

Read more (2 comments)

Senate Votes for Cloture on Hate Crimes Measure

by Jennie Smith

See full size image

Senate votes for cloture on hate crimes measure
Final vote expected this week

The U.S. Senate voted for cloture Thursday on a major defense bill that includes a hate crimes provision, bringing the long-sought measure closer to final passage and President Obama’s desk.

Senators approved the cloture motion for the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization conference report 64-35. The report includes a hate crimes provision because the Senate in July amended its version of the defense bill to include the measure.

Jim Manley, spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said a final Senate vote on the report would take place Thursday evening or Friday morning.

Read more

Hate Crimes Expansion on Verge of Final Passage

by Jennie Smith

Oct. 22, 2009 – 1:42 p.m.

Hate Crimes Expansion on Verge of Final Passage

After a decade-long battle, Congress is on the verge of expanding federal hate crimes law to cover offenses based on sexual orientation.

The hate crimes provision is attached to a fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill that the Senate is expected to send President Obama by day’s end.

Sponsors of the legislation had repeatedly attached it to the must-pass defense authorization bill in past years, but it was invariably stripped out in before final passage in the face of opposition from the Bush administration.

Both sides say larger Democratic majorities in each chamber and the vocal support of the Obama administration made the difference this year. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. testified in support of the measure before the Senate Judiciary Committee in June.

Read more

National Council for Jewish Women Applauds House Passage of Hate Crimes Bill

by Jennie Smith

NCJW Applauds House Passage of Hate Crimes Bill

April 29, 2009, Washington, DC -- The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) today applauds passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 by the House of Representatives. NCJW President Nancy Ratzan released the following statement:

"NCJW is proud to have played a key role in achieving passage of the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act today in the House of Representatives. This bill is a critical step in the long battle against crimes inspired by hate. It is also long overdue -- efforts to ensure hate crimes protections for all go back a decade. The legislation that passed today would expand the definition of a hate crime to include those violent offenses motivated by the victim's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, or disability. It would also assist local law enforcement agencies in fighting bias-motivated crimes and would empower the federal government to prosecute crimes where local authorities are unable or unwilling to do so.

Read more

Hating the Hate Crimes Bill

by Jennie Smith

Hating the Hate Crimes Bill

By David Waters

A hate crimes bill has passed the House and is expected to pass the Senate as early as this week. Conservative Christian leaders such as James Dobson, Pat Robertson and Donald Wildmon hate it.

In June, 60 religious conservatives signed a letter asking senators to filibuster the hate-crimes bill for fear it would "criminalize preaching the Gospel and put preachers in the cross-hairs." Christian Right groups have been sounding the alarm ever since. "Hate Crimes Bill Threatens Free Speech," warns the Christian Broadcasting Network. "Pastors could be prosecuted for preaching the biblical view of homosexuality," intones Focus on the Family.

Read more (3 comments)

House Expands Hate Crimes Law to Protect Gay Victims

by Jennie Smith

House Expands Hate Crimes Law To Protect Gay Victims

Congress appears on the verge of some major law making, as the House yesterday passed legislation that would make it a crime to assault people because of their sexual orientation.

Civil rights groups have attempted for more than a decade to expand hate-crimes legislation, which protects people victimized on the basis of race, national origin and religion, to include gays, but Republicans, including from George W. Bush, have opposed the expansion.

Thursday’s House measure, which also extends protection to victims of gender-based attacks, was attached to a must-pass defense appropriation bill. The Senate could approve the legislation as early as next week.

Read more

House Approves Hate-Crimes Measure as Part of Defense Funding

by Jennie Smith

House Approves Hate-Crimes Measure as Part of Defense Funding

By Ben Pershing
Legislation to punish hate crimes became a flashpoint on Capitol Hill on Thursday, as a measure expanding the definition of such crimes was attached to the bill outlining the Defense Department budget and approved by the House over the strong objections of Republicans.

House and Senate negotiators agreed earlier this week to attach the hate-crimes provision to the conference report for the $680 billion Defense Department authorization bill. The combined bill passed the House on Thursday, 281 to 146, with 131 Republicans and 15 Democrats in opposition. The measure must pass the Senate, in a vote that could come as early as next week, before it can head to President Obama's desk for his signature.

Congressional Republicans complained that appending the hate crimes provision to a bill laying out the Pentagon's budget for the coming year was an abuse of the legislative process and made U.S. troops "political pawns" in an unrelated social debate.

Read more

Senate wants expansion of federal hate crimes law

by Lizzy Genatowski

By JIM ABRAMS (AP) – 2 days ago

WASHINGTON — People attacked because of their sexual orientation or gender would receive federal protections under a Senate-approved measure that significantly expands the reach of hate crimes law.

The Senate bill also would make it easier for federal prosecutors to step in when state or local authorities are unable or unwilling to pursue hate crimes.

"The Senate made a strong statement this evening that hate crimes have no place in America," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said after the chamber voted Thursday to attach the legislation as an amendment to a $680 billion defense spending bill expected to be completed next week.

The House in April approved a similar bill and President Barack Obama has urged Congress to send him hate crimes legislation, presenting the best scenario for the measure to become law since Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., first introduced it more than a decade ago.

Kennedy, being treated for cancer and unable to attend the vote, said in a statement that the bill "closes the flagrant loopholes that for too long have prevented effective prosecution of these shocking crimes that terrorize entire groups of communities across America."

Republicans will have the opportunity to propose several more changes to the hate crimes bill on Monday, but that will not change its status as part of the must-pass defense bill.

Passage of the bill would effect the most significant extension of hate crimes law since Congress first acted in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Read more

Hate crimes bill nears passage

by Lizzy Genatowski

By ALEX ISENSTADT | 7/20/09 4:24 AM EDT

Hate crimes legislation that would expand protections for those attacked because of sexual orientation is poised to become law after several years of failed efforts to push the proposal past the Senate.

Senators, in a 63-28 vote, approved attaching the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act as an amendment to the must-pass defense appropriations bill over objections from Republicans, who argued that the legislation should be considered as a stand-alone bill.

The defense bill still has to come before a Senate vote and a House-Senate conference, but Republicans concede that there is little they can do to stop the legislation from moving forward.

Read more

For more information about LLEHCPA, please email Jared Feldman.