Oct 27, 2009

Attending President Obama’s signing of hate crimes bill

I have been invited by President Obama to attend the signing ceremony of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes bill this Wednesday, Oct. 28 at the White House.

After 14 votes in Congress over the course of 10 years, Congress finally has passed landmark legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from violent hate crimes. I am proud to see our country’s hope for progress and change become a reality. This historic victory offers protection for all Americans, including right here in Arizona.

Nearly 80 percent of Americans support the passage of hate crimes legislation that expands the current law to include crimes against people based on their gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity and for 10 years, Americans have been lobbying Congress to expand the definition of hate crimes to include LGBT people who are victims of hate crimes.

Upon the President’s signature Wednesday, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act will allow the federal government to provide assistance to local law enforcement agencies investigating hate crimes committed against LGBT people.

Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay college student, was brutally beaten and tied to a frozen fence to die in 1998 in Wyoming, and James Byrd, Jr., an African-American man, was dragged to his death in Texas in the same year.

The Act also allows the Justice Department, to take the lead, where local authorities are unwilling or unable, in investigations and prosecutions of violent crimes resulting in death or serious bodily injury that were motivated by bias. The legislation also makes grants available to state and local communities to combat violent crimes committed by juveniles, to train law enforcement officers or to assist in state and local investigations and prosecutions of bias motivated crimes.

President Obama and members of Congress have taken a first important step toward ensuring security and equality for all people in this country. I look forward to continued work with Congress and the White House to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Americans realize that these outdated policies hurt our national and domestic security, while doing nothing to protect families in our country. By repealing these misguided laws, President Obama and Congress will show again their continuing commitment to the security and equality of all American families.


  1. If you can get me a signing pen, I'd be in your debt forever. =) :P

  2. What a boon to draft dodgers in case there is ever a draft:

    "Dear draft board. I'm gay. Kick me out."