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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 08:18 PM
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National Gay and Lesbian Task Force: History in the Making

History in the Making

by National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

As President Obama today signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the following 30 organizations issued this joint statement:

It took much too long, more than a decade. And it came at too great a price: the brutal killings of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. are just two among the thousands of crimes motivated by hate and bigotry.

But this week, the president put pen to paper and fulfilled a campaign promise, the signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, extending the federal hate crimes statute to include sexual orientation and gender identity along with race, religion, gender, national origin and disability. Our deepest hope and strong belief is that this new law will save lives. Now, lawmakers and the president have made an imperative statement to the country and the world: Our nation will no longer tolerate hate-motivated violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

We have worked long and hard for this and its passage is historic.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations Uniform Crime Reporting Program, there are nearly 8,000 hate crime-related incidents annually, and more than 1,200 of those incidents involve violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And even more alarming, while the overall occurrence of hate crimes is declining nationally, hate crimes against LGBT people have been increasing. This year alone, we saw hate crimes trials in the brutal killings of two transgender women, Angie Zapata and Lateisha Green.

As a result of this legislation, if local jurisdictions are unable or unwilling to investigate or prosecute hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the Justice Department can now step in. And thats why the LGBT community never stopped working for this historic day.

This legislation not only has practical value, but is a symbol of our progress. It is the first time in the nations history that Congress has passed explicit protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We could not have reached this moment without the powerful support of our allies who stood with us every step of the way. We are deeply grateful to civil rights, civic, faith and disability rights groups, as well as law enforcement and district attorney organizations that worked side by side with the LGBT advocates. We are equally thankful to Congress, President Obama and members of his administration for passing and signing this bill into law.

While today we celebrate this marker of progress, we must recognize it as only one of the building blocks to full equality and demand that it be just a first step toward equal treatment under federal law in all areas of our lives. And we must focus on the next step.

The passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act provides us with an opportunity. We must use this moment to educate and keep the momentum going so that we can continue to make progress on the local, state and federal levels. Yes, legislation takes a long time often years of work. Yet, our community is on the cusp of passing much-needed protections.

This week, we call upon lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, families and allies to take this opportunity of increased media and public attention on hate crimes to educate co-workers, classmates, neighbors, family members and friends about our lives, and about why we need not only their friendship and love, but their vocal support for a more just and equal America for LGBT people. If your members of Congress voted in support of hate crimes legislation, call them and thank them. Then ask them to be there for us again when the vote turns to workplace nondiscrimination, military service and partnership rights.

With your help and our collective pressure, equality is within reach.

When talking about the need for hate crimes legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: "The time for debate is over."

She was right.

Just as the time has finally come for stronger hate crime protections, it is also time to pass an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, repeal "Dont Ask, Dont Tell" and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and ensure that health care, economic policy and immigration reform incorporate the needs of LGBT people.

The time for debate is over.

Signed by:

Jo Kenny, AFL-CIO Pride at Work
Terry Stone, Centerlink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Gabe Javier & Debbie Bazarsky, Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA
Toni Broaddus, Equality Federation
Jennifer Chrisler, Family Equality Council
Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry
Lee Swislow, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Rebecca Allison, M.D., Gay & Lesbian Medical Association
Chuck Wolfe, Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
Eliza Byard, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
Marjorie Hill, Gay Mens Health Crisis
Joe Solmonese, Human Rights Campaign
Rachel Tiven, Immigration Equality
Earl Fowlkes, International Federation of Black Prides
Kevin M. Cathcart, Lambda Legal
Leslie Calman, Mautner Project: The National Lesbian Health Organization
Sharon Lettman, National Black Justice Coalition
Kate Kendell, National Center for Lesbian Rights
Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality
Justin Nelson, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Rea Carey, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Paul Kawata, National Minority AIDS Council
Kyle Bailey, National Stonewall Democrats
Greg Varnum, National Youth Advocacy Coalition
Sharon Stapel, New York Anti-Violence Project
Selisse Berry, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Jody Michael Huckaby, PFLAG National
Aubrey Sarvis, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
Michael Adams, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)


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cherokeeprogressive Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 08:28 PM
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1. I love it when Congress does something great like this. Good on them.
I'll feel much better though when my daughter can finally marry the woman she loves.

Until then? :applause: to the Congresscritters who made this happen.
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 09:26 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. It did come at an awful price and
there's no way it would have happened with a bunch of unconscionable republicons in the majority.
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Hekate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-29-09 01:05 AM
Response to Original message
3. K and 5th Rec
:kick: :applause:

Hekate
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HopeOverFear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-29-09 12:31 PM
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4. K & R
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firedupdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-29-09 12:54 PM
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5. Too late to rec, but thanks for posting this. n/t
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Number23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-29-09 05:26 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. I just rec'd, firedup. I don't think it's too late.
Edited on Thu Oct-29-09 05:27 PM by Number23
What I do think is interesting is that this is the first time I've heard of either Angie Zapata or Lateisha Green. I'm thankful to these organizations for recognizing these two individuals. Would be wonderful if legislation was named after either of them as well.

Angie Zapata - Angie Zapata (1988 - July 17, 2008) was a transgender Latina living in Greeley, CO.
http://www.lgbthatecrimes.org/doku.php/angie-zapata

Lateisha Green - On November 14, 2008, Lateisha "Teish" Green (a 22-year-old African American transgender woman) was shot and killed outside a house party in Syracuse, New York.
http://transgenderlegal.org/headline_show.php?id=122

My God, they were both so young...
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elshiva Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-29-09 10:34 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Let me add to that:
Edited on Thu Oct-29-09 10:37 PM by elshiva

Sakia Gunn, 15 year old black lesbian, killed by men after she refused their advances and said she was a lesbian.


Venus Xtravaganza (transgender woman), of the House of Xtravangza, inspirational performer at Harlem Drag Balls. Killed by a john in 1989, probably because he found out that she had not completed surgery.

Please see "Paris Is Burning" a documentary about Harlem Drag Balls that shows the joys and struggles of MTF transgender women. Venus Xtravangza is one of the many stars. She truly shines. She wanted to get married in a big white wedding gown. :cry:
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Number23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-30-09 12:15 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. 15??! Oh dear God...
I've seen Paris is Burning but not for a looong time. Thanks for the reminder, elshiva.

I'm very familiar with the story of Michael Sandy. Not transgendered but a black man killed because he was gay. There was discussion among some black gays wondering if he will become as renowned as Matthew Shepard. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Sandy

http://michaelsandyfoundation.org/
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elshiva Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-30-09 08:21 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Thank you. I've never heard of Michael Sandy.
It's great that you saw Paris Is Burning. It's a classic. The Harlem Drag Balls were where Madonna got the idea for "Vogue." The Drag Houses were/are families for people rejected by their biological families.


Sorry, dear Michael Sandy.

Also, of course, Brandon Teena of "Boys Don't Cry" fame. So sad that was actually based on a real story. :cry:
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JNelson6563 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-29-09 07:23 PM
Response to Original message
7. Wonderful!
:toast:
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