Friday, October 23, 2009

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed yesterday!

When I called Carolyn Wagner and told her that The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed yesterday, she was in tears and said she didn't think she would see this day in her lifetime.

I'm thinking of Bill of course. And so many others.

Now it will now go to President Obama's desk to be signed into law, and he has promised to do so.

The Task Force press statement includes:
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act will help protect people against violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, gender, national origin and disability by extending the federal hate crimes statute. It will provide critical federal resources to state and local agencies to equip local officers with the tools they need to prosecute hate crimes. The House passed the bill Oct. 8. It now moves to President Obama, who has vowed to sign it.
"With his signature, President Obama will usher in a new era — one in which hate-motivated violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will no longer be tolerated."
— National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Care
Read the The Task Force press release:
Task Force: Passage of federal hate crimes bill marks 'milestone for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans'

See more information on Wikipedia: Matthew Shepard Act

This isn't the ending. It will be such an important piece of this work that we do when hate crimes happen.


  1. For those of us in FUAH, we will no longer be limited with the help we can provide to survivors and or families/friends of victims in the pursuit of justice. Families and or survivors now have the option to request justice via the US Justice Dept if local law enforcement fail to pursue an investigation or prosecute offenders. Law enforcement bodies can no longer plea lack of adequate funds to prosecute.
    Had this been law in 2001, Paula, mother of F.C. Martinez would have not had so rocky a path for justice.
    This law now makes the message clear, lgbt people are an offically recognized minority per congress and opens up a closet full of grants for public education and so on.
    What I struggle with are the faces of so many who are no longer with us, the faces of their parents, loved ones when their local law enforcement bodies compounded the crime by not acting as they would had the victim not been lgbt.
    In the spring of 2002, Gabi and I composed a public statement that went to congressional members as well as all members of the then hate crime national coalition members. This was the first time any organization confronted the fact that every hate crime bill up to that date had expressly excluded gender identity. We went further to state that as mothers of hate crime victims who identified as bisexual and gay, not transgendered,we would no longer support any bill that was not inclusive of all who are impacted by bias motivated violence. Right after our statement and while I served as VP of PFLAG's national board, PFLAG national board approved a motion I had made that sent the same message. Essentially that pflag would not support any legislation on any political level that was no inclusive of all who are included in our mission statement. Gabi and I were proud of pflag approving this motion and as Gabi predicted, within a year, all other national lgbt organizations had taken the same action.
    Long winded post but the end result is proof that when folks will roll up their sleeves and work together instead of whining and allowing differences to block progress, we can accomplish our shared goals of equal rights for all.
    My heart goes out to Gabi and Alec, Judy and Dennis as well as Dorothy Holman, Paula Mitchell, Nancy Rodriquez and all who lost their children. Bill and I know how fortunate we are that we can still hug our child, tell him of our love and pride. I will always admire the parents, families and loved ones who forged ahead with inclusive civil rights in the midst of such a loss.
    Respectfully, Carolyn Wagner

  2. Thank you Carolyn.
    I am amazed and admire parents, family and allies who forge when they have not lost, or when they almost did and could have gone on as if this country and this world were not so full of danger and things that need changing.

    The statement we wrote in 2002 is still posted on the our website, "FUAH's position regarding federal hate crime legislation":

  3. Alec and I were glad to be at the reception in the White House following the signing of the bill. See more about that here:

  4. My heart goes to them..I hope everything's okay to them.