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October 07, 2004
Brendan Daly

House Democrats Condemn GOP Rejection of Hate Crimes Legislation

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats today condemned the decision of the Republican leadership in Congress to remove a hate crimes prevention provision in legislation supported by majorities of both the House and Senate.

For the second time in four years, the Republican leadership has unconscionably ignored the will of House and the Senate and stripped the hate crimes prevention provisions," Pelosi said. "The needs of law enforcement -- which have repeatedly requested federal assistance in solving and preventing a wide range of violent hate crimes -- have been ignored."

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act would add real or perceived sexual orientation, gender and disability to federal hate crime laws, thus allowing the federal government the ability to provide critical assistance to state, local, and federal law enforcement to combat violent crimes against victims because of their race, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, gender or disability.  It was included by the Senate as part of the Defense Authorization Bill.

"This is a sad day for America," said Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). "All Americans, regardless of their race, gender, disability or sexual orientation, have a right to feel safe in their communities.  Hate crimes are different than other violent crimes because they seek to instill fear and terror throughout a whole community-whether it is burning a cross in someone's yard, burning a synagogue, or a rash of physical assaults near a gay community center.

Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) said: "Sadly, this is further confirmation of the determination of House Republicans to use their control of the House to block any legislation that would advance fair treatment for gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgendered people."

Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said: "Shamefully, the Republican Leadership has failed to advance the democratic principles of the people's government.  Understanding that crimes motivated by bias hurt all Americans, this country has expressed widespread support for comprehensive hate crimes legislation that will provide assistance to the state and local law enforcement agencies that are working to eradicate such crimes."

On June 14, the Senate included the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the defense bill by a bipartisan vote of 65-33, with 18 Republicans.  Last month, the House voted 213-186 - including 31 Republicans in support- to instruct House conferees to retain the Senate language in the final version of the bill.

The House version has 177 co-sponsors. The House passed a similar motion to instruct in September 2000, by a 232-192 vote, with 41 Republicans, but that amendment was stripped out in conference committee.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has refused to allow the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Hate Crimes Prevention Act to be considered on the House floor, where it would clearly win majority support.

The measure enjoys strong bipartisan support and is endorsed by more than 175 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organizations, including: the National Sheriffs' Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and many others.

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“ Ours must be a government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ That means all of the American people. Republicans have made it a government of, by, and for a few of the people. America can do better. We can and we will. With this agenda, Democrats will create the most open and honest government in history, and put power back where it belongs – in the hands of all the people. ”

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

How do you think the investigation into the federal response to Hurricane Katrina should proceed?

 With an independent, evenly divided commission similar to the 9/11 Commission.
 With Republicans in Congress investigating themselves.
 No investigation is necessary.

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