Hate Crimes Provision Stripped from National Defense Authorization Act

December 6, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The ACLU today expressed its disappointment that Congress has stripped from the National Defense Authorization Act a provision that would have extended federal civil rights protections to individuals targeted for violent crimes based on their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability. The Matthew Shepard Amendment would allow federal law enforcement officials to step in to prosecute hate crimes where local law enforcement can not, or will not.

The following can be attributed to Christopher E. Anders, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“The Matthew Shepard Amendment represents ten years of hard work on the part of the civil rights community, and this is the closest we’ve come to having much-needed hate crimes language reach the president’s desk. Of course we’re frustrated to come so far, only to see the measure stripped out of the final bill. Whether as an amendment or a stand-alone bill, this should be an easy measure for Congress to pass, and we see no basis for a presidential veto. In addition to enjoying bipartisan support, the Matthew Shepard Amendment contains important protections for free speech and free association, as well as civil rights.”

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