Hate Crimes bill moves in the Senate

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Background
On July 16, 2009 the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act was added as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (S.1391). The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act has strong bipartisan support as evidenced by the passage of a similar bill (H.R.1913) in the House of Representatives on April 29, 2009.  The Senate has previously supported identical legislation on four separate occasions by wide bipartisan margins, most recently as an amendment to the 2008 Department of Defense Authorization bill by a vote of 60-39.  This Hate Crimes amendment would ensure the expansion of existing federal hate crimes law to include protections for those victimized because of real or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.  Further, it would remove the overly cumbersome obstacles standing in the way of federal prosecution.  This would allow the federal government to assist local law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes or become involved when local law enforcement is either unable or unwilling.  The Attorney General or other high-ranking Justice Department officials would be required to approve all federal prosecutions to eliminate replicating state efforts.

Action Required
Social Workers have been at the forefront of social change, raising their voices on vital issues of public policy.  NASW believes that the Hate Crimes Prevention Act strengthens our ability to address and to eradicate the violence caused by discrimination.  We urge the Senate to pass the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act as a part of the Department of Defense Authorization bill (S.1391).  A vote on S.1391 may occur as soon as Monday, July 20, 2009.   Click on take action to write a letter to your Senator.

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