HRC Applauds Gov. Schwarzenegger For Signing Comprehensive Hate Crimes Law

The Human Rights Campaign commends California Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, for signing the Omnibus Hate Crimes
Act of 2004. The law creates a uniform definition of a hate crime and
includes crimes against individuals based on sexual orientation or
gender identity, as well providing tools to reduce such crimes.

"California is working to unify its citizens as others attempt to divide
us," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "We hope this welcome
development acts as a beacon to Congress to take similar steps in
protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans from the
scourge of hate crimes. We laud Governor Schwarzenegger, the legislators
and Equality California for their work on this law."

"Equality California greatly appreciates Governor Schwarzenegger's
continued support of legislation designed to reduce discrimination and
violence against LGBT Californians," said Geoffrey Kors, executive
director of Equality California. "We hope his action sends a strong
message to any members of Congress who may not be inclined to support
the federal Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act."

Jacques added, "We're working hard to ensure that the intent and
enforcement of the federal bill is just as clear in its coverage of the
entire GLBT community as California's."

The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act would expand federal
jurisdiction to reach serious, violent hate crimes based on "the actual
or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation,
gender or disability" of the victims. The Senate passed the measure June
15, 2004, by 65 to 33 bipartisan vote as an amendment on the Department
of Defense authorization bill.

The fate of the federal hate crimes law rests with a conference
committee, which is comprised of members of the Senate and House of
Representatives. HRC is working coalition allies and congressional
supporters to ensure the hate crimes bill is not stripped out by the
conference committee, as it has been twice before.

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