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Friday, October 23, 2009

Trans-inclusive hate crimes "Matthew Shephard" bill passes, goes to Obama

Did you know that there are still twenty states in the United States that do not have hate crime laws that include crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity? And that even in states with sexual orientation-based hate crimes laws, only 12 states and Washington, D.C., include transgender persons in those laws?

More than 77,000 hate-crime incidents were reported by the FBI between 1998 and 2007, or "nearly one hate crime for every hour of every day over the span of a decade," [U.S. Attorney General] Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee in June...The FBI, Holder added, reported 7,624 hate-crime incidents in 2007, the most current year with complete data.

Well after an eleven year political fight, the "Matthew Shephard" act was passed by both the Congress and the Senate and now heads to Obama for his signature--which he has promised to give.

That means that all across the United States, hate crimes laws now include crimes based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. LGB and T!

Critics--especially religious critics--are claiming this law will be used against religious speech, although Attorney General Holder explains to the contrary, "that any federal hate-crimes law would be used only to prosecute violent acts based on bias, as opposed to the prosecution of speech based on controversial racial or religious beliefs." [CNN]

Your thoughts on hate-crime enhancements and protections? Have you or anyone you know been a victim? Will this law make a difference?

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