Hate Crimes Bill is now Hate Crimes Law
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Law, signed today by President Barack Obama, is now law! It was named for two victims of bias-motivated crimes. Matthew Shepard was a University of Wyoming student murdered in 1998 because he was perceived to be gay, and James Byrd, Jr. was a black man who was tied to the back of a truck and dragged to his death in Texas by two white supremacists the same year.
Killers in both of these cases were not charged under hate crime laws, because those states did not have them at the time.
With Congress’ passage of a long-awaited hate crimes prevention law, Mississippi’s gay and lesbian residents are poised to be legally protected from physical attacks no matter where they are in the country. According to the Anti-Defamation League, 20 states, including Mississippi, do not have hate crime prevention based on sexual orientation. 17% of all hate crimes in the US are because of sexual orientation.
This is the first major piece of legislation passed by the U.S. Congress to include LGBT protection. Now all gay and lesbian Americans will be protected by hate crime laws in every state.
We applaud Congress and the President for ensuring irrational and hateful crimes are punished accordingly!
We are saddened by the fact that our own representatives did not see it fitting to protect their LGBT constituents. Mississippi’s Senators. Roger Wicker (R) and Thad Cochran(R) both voted “No” on the measure.