Press Release: LULAC Hails Passage of Landmark Hate Crimes Legislation.
Bill marks the first practical expansion of civil rights law since 1968.
October 23, 2009
Contact: Contact: Lizette Jenness Olmos
(202) 833-6130 ext. 16
Washington, DC – Today, the Senate gave final congressional approval
68-29 to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act,
which expands the definition of federal hate crimes and removes unnecessary
obstacles to federal prosecution. President Obama is likely to sign the Act
into law soon.
“We applaud Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) for his leadership and those Senators
who supported this legislation for recognizing the fundamental right of all
Americans to be protected from violence because of their race, sexual
orientation, areas of worship, gender identity and disability status,”
stated LULAC National President Rosa Rosales. “The passage of this bill
sends a clear message that hate crimes will not be tolerated in America. We
look forward to President Obama signing it into law.”
The Act authorizes the federal government to investigate and prosecute
bias-motivated crimes based on the victim's actual or perceived sexual
orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Currently, the
Department of Justice can only investigate hate crimes motivated by the
victim's race, color, religion, and national origin.
The bill also gives the federal government jurisdiction over prosecuting
hate crimes in states where the current law is inadequate or when local
authorities are unwilling or do not have the resources to do so themselves.
Local authorities would also receive additional resources to combat hate
This year LULAC’s National Assembly passed a policy platform urging Congress
to pass laws that provide stronger sentencing and more aggressive
prosecution for hate crimes. LULAC indicated the federal government’s role
should be expanded in the prosecution of hate crimes by being allowed to
assist state and local efforts to prosecute a broader scope of hate crimes.
The League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest and largest
Hispanic membership organization in the country, advances the economic
conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health, housing and
civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs
operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.