Hate Crimes Legislation
by Todd Beeton, Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 01:47:42 AM EDT
I am thrilled to see that the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly today. When the bill first passed the House in 2007 it was met with the threat of a veto by President Bush. I'm happy to see that today we have a president who values the importance of protecting the most vulnerable among us. It is precisely for the passage of bills such as this that Americans overwhelmingly voted for change in November. I'm glad to see that today the House brought us one step closer to making this bill a reality.
Passing the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 is important for two key reasons. First, it would expand hate-crime laws to include crimes based on sexual orientation, gender-identity and gender as well as disability. Currently, hate crimes laws are limited to acts of violence motivated by race, religion, color or national origin. Secondly, this bill would allow the federal government to prosecute hate crimes in states where current law is inadequate. Currently, federal prosecutors get involved only if the victim is engaged in a federally protected activity.
I know all about working to strengthen hate crimes laws at the local level. During my time in the California Assembly, I chaired the Select Committee on Hate Crimes where we advanced several bills to strengthen hate crimes legislation and to force accurate reporting and tracking of hate crimes. Sixty years ago, 120,000 Japanese Americans, US citizens by and large, were sent to concentration camps. No case of espionage was found. Yet nobody stood up for them. After 9/11 we saw a raft of attacks in the Sikh, Arab, and Muslim communities in California. I saw it as imperative to author legislation to protect their rights. While California hate crimes legislation was already rather encompassing, I still felt there was room for improvement. My advocacy for hate crimes legislation expanded from there into other Her hate crimes bills improve the prosecution of hate crimes, prohibit the insertion of hate flyers in free publications, and create an anti-bias youth program.