statement on the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 28, 2009

CONTACT: Tanner Efinger, 978-604-0942

Equality Across America statement on the
Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Today President Barack Obama signs into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This is the first time federal action has been taken to protect people who are violently victimized for their gender identity or sexual orientation. However, this expansion of federal hate crimes protections to cover sexual orientation and gender identity sends a mixed message.

“It’s good that the U.S. government has finally taken action to deter hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But by continuing to permit or even require discrimination against LGBT people in our relationships, in public service and in the workplace, the government fuels the very bigotry that results in violent attacks,” said Tanner Efinger of Equality Across America.

Passage of the Act shows that escalated protest over the past year, such as at the National Equality March (NEM) on October 11th, is putting significant pressure on Congress to address anti-LGBT discrimination.

“We applaud and congratulate Matthew Shepard’s mom, Judy, who has inspired so many over the last eleven years and did so again when she spoke at the National Equality March, this October,” said Robin McGehee, co-director of the NEM. “She has truly shown what being a fierce advocate for equality and justice is truly about, even after facing such a horrible tragedy based in hate.”

Equality Across America will use this federal action to redouble our efforts to mobilize forces in all 435 Congressional districts to fight for full equality in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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