For Immediate Release                                                                                 
April 29, 2009         

Contact: Steve Ralls
(202) 467-8180, ext. 214 / sralls@pflag.org

PFLAG Celebrates House Passage of Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Organization Urges the Senate to Approve “Critically Important” Legislation

Washington, DC – Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) applauded today’s vote, in the House of Representatives, approving The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would add sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability status to the federal hate crimes statute. The House approved the measure by a vote of 249 to 175, and similar legislation was introduced on Tuesday in the Senate. President Obama has expressed his strong support for the bill, and urged lawmakers to support it.

“The critically important bill approved by the House today would give law enforcement officials a powerful weapon in battling the nearly 1,000 anti-gay and transgender hate crimes reported each year, and give victims and their families hope that our country will finally take serious steps to curb those attacks,” said Jody M. Huckaby, PFLAG’s executive director. “Too many families have lost a loved one to hate, and this bill would ensure that, moving forward, other families will be able to more easily seek, and find, justice in bias-motivated cases. This measure, which was supported by 31 attorneys general and more than 200 organizations from both sides of the political aisle, is long overdue and urgently needed. PFLAG families urge the Senate to quickly approve the measure as well, and send the bill to President Obama for his signature.”

Hate crimes against the LGBT community increased 24 percent nationwide in 2007, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Especially startling increases occurred in Michigan (up 207 percent), Minnesota (up 135 percent) and even in Los Angeles, which saw a 100 percent increase in anti-gay violence. Anti-gay murders also doubled during the same period, the coalition reported. 

PFLAG recently launched an online petition, in conjunction with the mother of Sean Kennedy, a young man in South Carolina who was brutally attacked and killed outside of a gay bar, urging lawmakers to approve the hate crimes bill. More than 9,300 people used the petition to contact Congress in support of the measure.

“There is no more important action our elected leaders can take than to protect those we love, and this law does just that,” Huckaby said. “For the countless families who have lost loved ones to hate, it cannot reach the President’s desk soon enough.”

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PFLAG promotes the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through: support, to cope with an adverse society; education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.