Congressman Jerrold Nadler hailed House passage of a critical amendment to strengthen prosecution of hate crimes and to expand the definition of hate crimes to include those motivated by gender, gender identity, disability, and sexual orientation. The amendment passed during consideration of the Child Safety Act of 2005.
Congressman Nadler’s remarks to the House follow:
“Mr. Chairman, we are faced with an historic opportunity this year to pass legislation to combat violent hate crimes that continue to plague our country.
Despite the brutal killing of Matthew Shepard seven years ago, Congress has failed to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. We have a rare opportunity today to finally pass this bill as an amendment to a crime bill, and we must not let this opportunity pass us by again.
In the years that followed Matthew Shepard’s death, thousands of hate crimes have been committed and Congress has failed to protect gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals from these heinous crimes.
Tragically, we are all far too familiar with the violent acts of hate crime. Congress has been too slow in responding to the hate crimes that continue to threaten our communities all across America. Time after time, we hear horror stories of murderers attacking innocent people because they happen to be members of a certain community.
Remember, hate crimes are especially odious because they victimize more than just the individual victim; they also are acts of terrorism directed against an entire class of citizens. When a hate crime is committed, it sends a message to every member of the targeted group that they risk their lives simply by remaining part of that community or ascribing to that identity. Americans should never have to be afraid to live the way they choose.
The Conyers Amendment would strengthen existing federal law in two ways. First, it removes the requirement that the victim be engaged in a federally protected activity when the crime is committed. The amendment will thereby make it easier for federal authorities to prosecute or assist local authorities in prosecuting hate crimes. Second, it expands the definition of hate crimes to include those motivated by gender, gender identity, disability, and sexual orientation.
We must all redouble our efforts to pass sensible hate crimes prevention legislation this year. We must continue our fight to protect American families from violent bigotry and vicious acts of hatred. I urge my colleagues to vote for the Conyers amendment.”
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