FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 20, 2009
Contact: Maggie Kao (202) 466-2735
Death Penalty Amendment Threatens Vital Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Statement of Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Washington, D.C. – The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) released the following statement on today’s Senate passage of S. 909, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill (S. 1390).
"Today the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights applauds the Senate for passing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. But, the victory is blighted with an unnecessary and poisonous death penalty amendment that is designed to kill this landmark legislation.
We urge Members of Congress to recognize this egregious effort to dismantle the Hate Crimes Prevention Act for what it is, and remove the death penalty amendment from the bill when it goes to conference.
The Leadership Conference – along with the sponsors of the bill and the more than 300 civil rights, human rights, religious, and law enforcement organizations that support the strengthening of hate crimes legislation – strongly opposed this amendment.
The need for hate crimes legislation has become apparent as we hear stories about individuals like Stephen Tyrone Johns of Washington, D.C., Sean Kennedy of South Carolina, Angie Zapata of Colorado, Luis Ramirez of Pennsylvania, and Matthew Shepard of Wyoming, and others who have found themselves targeted because of the color of their skin, their national origin, their religion, their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.
In an increasingly diverse America, no civil right is more vital to the American Democracy than the government’s role in protecting individuals from acts of violence because of who they are."
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The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition. For more information on LCCR and its over 200 member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.