Obama Signs Hate Crimes Act

10.28.2009

By Jessanne Collins

Photo: Joann Toy

This afternoon President Obama signed The Matthew Shepard
and James Byrd, Jr. 
Hate Crimes
Prevention Act
, a bill that updates the original 1968 federal hate crimes
statute to make violence against gay, lesbian, transgender, and disabled people a federal crime. The
bill, a version of which was first introduced in 1996, two years before the hate-motivated murders of Shepard and Byrd in 1998, allows for federal investigators, forensic tools, and
funds to be allotted to help state and local officials tackle hate crimes.

“As a straight ally and as a person with many lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender family members, friends and fans, I want to thank the
Human Rights Campaign, Judy and Dennis Shepard and Senator Edward Kennedy for
their leadership in the 11 year struggle to get the Matthew Shepard & James
Byrd, Jr. Hates Crimes Prevention Bill enacted,” longtime gay rights advocate
Cyndi Lauper said in a statement today. “FINALLY, with President Obama’s
signature, violent hate crimes against the LGBT community will be recognized
and prosecuted by the Federal government. This is only the beginning, I believe
that the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, as
well as the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, will soon be
here. Today, that light at the end of the tunnel for the LGBT civil rights
movement is much brighter.” 

Previously > Bea Arthur Leaves $300,000 To The Ali Forney Center

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