The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (H.R. 1913) would add sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to existing federal hate crimes laws. It would also strengthen enforcement of these laws by allowing the US Department of Justice to assist local authorities in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes cases. The bill is identical to the hate crimes legislation passed by the House of Representatives in 2007 and is transgender-inclusive. It was reintroduced on April 2nd, 2009 by Representative John Conyers (D-MI) along with 42 original co-sponsors. When introducing the bill, Representative Conyers stated that "law enforcement authorities and civic leaders have learned that a failure to address the problem of bias crime can cause a seemingly isolated incident to fester into widespread tension that can damage the social fabric of the wider community. Hate Crimes legislation is a constructive and measured response to a problem that continues to plague our nation. These are crimes that shock and shame our national conscience. They should be subject to comprehensive federal law enforcement assistance and prosecution." To weigh in, and voice your support for hate crimes legislation, click here and send a message to your elected representative. Be sure to identify yourself as a PFLAG member, and to specifically ask your elected representative to co-sponsor this legislation. Then, ask your friends, neighbors and family members to email and express their support, too. When you contact your Member of Congress, please remember to highlight some of these important points:
• Current Law is Inadequate. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Hate Crimes statistics, crimes motivated by hate against a person based on their sexual orientation make up the third largest category of hate crimes behind race and religion, and yet current federal hate crimes laws only provide protections based on race, religion and national origin.
• The Bill Honors the First Amendment. The legislation only prohibits criminal actions, and does not include speech. To further ensure that there is no confusion on what the bill covers and does not, an amendment was adopted that explicitly states that conduct protected under the First Amendment – free expression and free exercise clauses – Is not subject to prosecution (this includes religious speech).
• Support for this Bill is Widespread. This legislation has attracted the support of over 210 civil rights, education, religious and civic organizations. Virtually every major law enforcement organization in the country has endorsed the bill – including the International Association of chiefs of police, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Sheriffs Association, the Police Executive Research Forum and 31 state Attorneys General.
Whether you’re a parent, a friend, a family member or LGBT yourself, we know you share our outrage that more than 1,000 hate crimes against LGBT Americans are reported to the FBI each year! It’s an outrage that more than 10 years after the high-profile death of Matthew Shephard, Congress has still not passed federal legislation to help law enforcement properly prosecute these crimes. That’s why it’s time for us to take a stand today. Join PFLAG in calling on Congress to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. The time has come to bring enact this long-overdue law. If you have any questions regarding this information, please be sure to contact us.