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Friday, September 16

E-Mail from John Conyers:

"Conyers Hate Crimes Prevention Act Passes House in Historic Vote"

"Yesterday afternoon, we were able to secure House passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This historic event marks the first criminal law-based civil rights measure to pass in decades. I introduced this bipartisan bill in May, 2005 with my colleagues Barney Frank, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Tammy Baldwin and Christopher Shays. Our bill passed as an amendment to the Child Safety Act by a vote of 223-199. To view the video of my floor speech on the Human Rights Campaign website, use the link below:

(HRC.ORG LINK)

"30 Republicans crossed over to vote with us on this amendment. Ironically, many of the conservative Republicans that supported the base bill, the Child Safety Act, felt compelled to oppose that bill’s final passage because its amended version included in the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

"Bias crimes are disturbingly prevalent and pose a significant threat to the full participation of all Americans in our democratic society. For the year 2003, the most recently available data, the FBI compiled reports from law enforcement agencies across the country identifying 7,489 criminal incidents that were motivated by an offender’s irrational antagonism toward some personal attribute associated with the victim. Reporting by law enforcement is voluntary and it is widely believed that hate crimes are seriously under-reported.

"Despite the pervasiveness of the problem, current law limits federal jurisdiction over hate crimes to incidents against protected classes that occur only during the exercise of federally protected activities, such as voting. Further, the statutes do not permit federal involvement in a range of cases where crimes are motivated by bias against the victim’s perceived sexual orientation, gender, disability or gender identity. This loophole is particularly significant given the fact that four states have no hate crime laws on the books, and another 21 states have extremely weak hate crimes laws.

"This legislation will make it easier for federal authorities to prosecute bias crimes by loosening the unduly rigid jurisdictional requirements under federal law, in the same way that the Church Arson Prevention Act. In addition, the bill will provide DOJ assistance for prosecutions at the state and local level. Passage in the House is just the first step.

"We now must make sure that the Senate follows its past record of supporting this legislation and then move our focus to the President. As it is combined with the underlying Child Safety Act, I believe we have our best chance ever of passing this bill into law.

"I would like your ideas on how we can fight for the Senate passage of this important legislation. Feel free to respond to this email with any thoughts you may have.

"Thank you for your time and support on this important issue".

Sincerely,
John Conyers, Jr.

If anybody can find a complete breakdown of how each Rep. voted, put it in the comments.

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