October 22, 2009
CARDIN PRAISES PASSAGE OF THE MATTHEW SHEPARD HATE CRIMES PREVENTION ACT
"The Senate has added its voice to those who stand up against hate and violence."
Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today lauded the 68-29 vote to adopt the Conference Report to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. Senator Cardin is an original co-sponsor of the hate crimes provision. The Conference Report already has been adopted by the House of Representatives and will now be sent to President Obama for his signature.
"Hate crimes continue to occur in our country every day and, with today's vote, a majority of U.S. Senators stated unequivocally that such acts will not be tolerated in our society.
"This day is a long time coming. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act is a necessary and appropriate response to an ongoing threat to our citizens. States have a patchwork of hate crimes statutes that leave gaps in effective response and prosecution. The federal government has a clear responsibility to act. We cannot allow our communities to be terrorized by hatred and violence.
"Current federal hate crime laws are based only on race, color, national origin and religion. It is essential that we also include gender, disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation. In addition, current law requires the victim to be participating in a federally protected activity, like attending school or voting. Those who commit hate crimes are not bound to certain jurisdictions and neither should the people who prosecute them, which is why this legislation removes the requirement that a victim be participating in a federally protected activity. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act will help ensure that all Americans are equally protected against hate crimes."
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have enacted hate crime laws and have taken a stand against hate in their states. Thirty-one of those states have already included sexual orientation in their definition of what constitutes a hate crime. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia prohibit violent crimes based upon a victim's gender.
According to recent FBI data, there were over 150 reported hate crimes in Maryland in 2007, and over 7,600 nationwide.
The National Defense Authorization Actwould authorize $680.2 billion in discretionary budget authority for defense programs in Fiscal Year 2010. It includes a base budget request of $550.2 billion and additional funding of $130 billion for overseas contingency operations, most of which funds U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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