ADL Urges Congress to Enact Legislation to Address the 'Disturbing Prevalence' of Hate Crime in America
Washington, DC, June 25, 2009 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on members of the Senate to address the disturbing prevalence of hate violence in America by passing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would better equip federal, state, and local law enforcement to confront violent hate crime.
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, ADL outlined the framework and rationale for hate crime laws and the gaps in existing law that would be addressed by the act. The League testified on behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a large and diverse coalition of more than 200 civil and human rights organizations who support the measure.
"We know that bigotry, racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism cannot be legislated out of existence," said Michael Lieberman, ADL Washington Counsel, and co-chair of the Leadership Conference's Hate Crime Task Force. "But federal involvement in select cases where state and local officials cannot or will not act, and expanded federal partnerships with state and local officials, will result in a more effective response to these crimes."
Mr. Lieberman noted the extraordinary coalition of more than 300 civil rights, professional, civic, educational, and religious groups that have unified in support of the measure.
"It's even more extraordinary that we come in support of this legislation hand-in-hand with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Attorneys Association – and virtually every other major law enforcement organization in America," he said. "We do so because we recognize that violent hate crimes have a special impact on victims and their communities.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. also testified before the committee, delivering the administration's first major statement to Congress on the issue.
ADL has been a pioneer in advocating for hate crimes legislation since the first ADL model hate crimes statute was drafted almost 30 years ago. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws based on or similar to the ADL model.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.