Anti-Gay Hate Crime in Massachusetts is Enraging Reminder of Need to Pass Law

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese made the
following statement in the wake of a violent anti-gay hate crime in
Massachusetts on February 1st.

"When a man walks into a bar, asks if it's a gay bar and starts
shooting, there couldn't be any more glaringly obvious and enraging
example that we need uniform hate crimes law and that Congress has
stubbornly failed to act," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe
Solmonese. "The Senate can change this today. Whether the hate crime
occurs in New Bedford, Massachusetts, or Roanoke, Virginia, local law
enforcement deserve access to the same tools. The Local Law Enforcement
Enhancement Act would do this.

"I am infuriated and deeply saddened. Our hearts are with the families
and friends of those wounded in this tragic hate crime," added
Solmonese. "This harrowing crime is a sobering and shocking reminder of
the way anti-gay prejudice manifests to violence and that we need to
deal with this as a country.

"We are thankful that the local authorities are investigating this as a
hate crime. We stand by Congressional allies who have been working for
years to pass a measure giving critical tools to police officers and
district attorneys working for justice in the wake of horrifying hate
crimes. The Senate should do what the House has already done and pass
the hate crimes law."

According to reports a man walked into a lounge in New Bedford, Mass.,
asking if it was a gay bar. He then brandished a hatchet, swinging it at
victims, and later drew a gun, opening fire and wounding several people.

In the course of prosecuting the killers in the anti-gay hate crime in
Laramie, Wyo., in which Matthew Shepard was murdered, local law
enforcement was forced to furlough several officers due to scarcity of
resources. The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act, already passed by
the House in the fall and by the Senate in years past, would give grants
to local law enforcement to fully prosecute these crimes. Senate
leadership is stalling a vote on the bill.

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