Senate Approval of Hate Crimes Bill a 'Landmark Achievement'
New York, NY, October 22, 2009 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today hailed the Senate's passage of a national hate crimes bill as a "landmark achievement."
The House of Representatives approved the legislation on October 8, and President Obama has said he will sign the measure, which provides new authority for federal officials to more effectively address hate violence.
Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
The Senate's final approval of the Hate Crime Prevention Act is a landmark achievement in the decades-long effort to combat hate violence – and cause for celebration. This legislation is the most important, comprehensive and inclusive federal hate crime law enacted in the past 40 years. We look forward to President Obama signing it into law.
Hate crimes are a very real problem in our society. When victims are targeted for their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other immutable characteristics, the attack also affects a broader community.
The United States Congress is sending a strong message that bias-motivated attacks are unacceptable and warrant serious, sustained efforts to address them.
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act (HCPA) passed the Senate as part of the FY 2010 Department of Defense Authorization Conference Report, by a vote of 68-29. The key vote was on a motion to end a possible filibuster by opponents of the hate crime provisions, which passed 64-35.
ADL expressed appreciation to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and praised the persistence and determination of congressional champions of the hate crime legislation over the years – in the Senate: the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Carl Levin (D-MI), author of the Defense Department bill, and former Senator Gordon Smith. Leaders in the House of Representatives over the years who deserve recognition include: Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Jerry Nadler (D-NY).
The support of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., provided the critical final piece to secure enactment of this essential legislation.
ADL has been privileged to lead a broad coalition of civil rights, religious, educational, professional, law enforcement, and civic organizations working in support of this legislation for more than a decade.
ADL has been a pioneer in advocating for hate crimes legislation since the League's first 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.
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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.