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Tell Congress to amend the hate crime law and add sexual orientation, gender and disability

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It's been nearly ten years since Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered for being gay. Ten years since the Republicans - Trent Lott, to be exact - killed an amendment that would have added perceived sexual orientation, gender, and disability to the already-existing federal hate crimes law that has been on the books since 1968. This year, that's going to change. The Human Rights Campaign is launching a big push to get the federal hate crimes law amended this year so that EVERYONE is included.

A few points.

1. Regardless of your position on "hate crimes" laws, there already is a federal law, and it covers race, religion and national origin. If we're going to have a federal law, shouldn't it cover everyone?

2. Hate crimes laws actually do something, they provide actual resources, they're not just about enhanced punishment. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights notes, correctly, that federal authorities cannot investigate or prosecute crimes involving death or serious bodily injury based on sexual orientation, gender, or disability-based bias when local law enforcement is unavailable or unwilling to proceed. They literally can not. The hate crimes law gives the feds that right, but only if your category of crime is listed. That's why there's such a big push to get everyone included.

3. Anti-gay hate is real. Per HRC:

According to 2004 FBI statistics, hate crimes based on sexual orientation constituted the third highest category reported and made up 15.5 percent of all reported hate crimes. Only race-based and religion-based prejudice crimes were more prevalent than hate crimes based on sexual orientation.
This is one of the two big civil rights goals of the year for the gay community, to finally get the hate crime law amended. The second big goal is to get ENDA passed so that it will no longer be legal to fire someone simply because they're gay (and yes, it's legal at the federal level and in the majority of states to do just that). Go to HRC's action center and contact your memeber of congress about the Hate Crimes amendment. We can get this passed this year.

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