Friday, November 6, 2009

Finally, a completed federal hate crimes bill - By Tracy Emblem – San Diego News Network

In 1998, Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming student perceived as gay, was severely beaten, tied to a fence and left in a coma to die by his attackers. That same year, James Byrd, a black-American, was beaten, stripped naked and dragged three miles tied to a truck. Both crimes were motivated by hate, bias and intolerance, but no hate crime laws existed in either state.

On Oct. 28, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd legislation expanded the legal definition of “hate crime” to include attacks based on sexual orientation. The bill passed Congress and was signed into law by President Obama, but Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) failed to take a leadership role and voted “NO” on this historic civil rights legislation.

A hate crime occurs when the perpetrator selects the victim because of the person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

As a society we cannot tolerate hate crimes which intimidate and put a whole class of people in fear. Now the Justice Department can aid state and local authorities investigating reported hate crimes when local authorities choose not to pursue a civil rights investigation.

Read complete article – by Tracy Emblem San Diego News Network

Tracy Emblem is an attorney and a democratic candidate who is running for U.S. Congress, in California’s 50th District in 2010. Tracy Emblem – San Diego News Network

(Photos not part of original article by Tracy Emblem San Diego News Network)

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