This bill, which passed both houses of Congress in 2007 but did not become law, would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from bias-motivated hate violence.
While all violent crimes are heinous, hate crimes are uniquely destructive, casting a pall of terror over an entire community. They don't just target a single victim. They are designed to "send a message" that an individual and "their kind" will not be tolerated, often leaving large numbers of people feeling isolated, vulnerable and unprotected.
Attacks against LGBT people are one of the more common forms of hate violence but, illogically, one of the least protected. Hate crimes as a whole declined 1 percent last year, according to the FBI, but LGBT hate crimes increased 6 percent.
It's long past time that we expand federal hate crimes law to cover sexual orientation and gender identity. And we must give local law enforcement officials the resources needed to investigate and prosecute these crimes.
Please protect civil rights by urging your representatives in Washington to give this bill full support and attention, and by urging your colleagues to support it as well.
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