BONO VOTES TO EXPAND PROTECTION TO VICTIMS OF HATE CRIMES
A long-standing advocate of ensuring the enforcement and expansion of public safety for all Americans, Congresswoman Mary Bono (CA-45), today voted in favor of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, H.R. 1592.
"All Americans, regardless of race, gender, disability, religion, or sexual orientation deserve full protection from senseless and heinous hate crimes," said Bono. "It is the responsibility of our government to establish these protections to ensure public safety and benefit our society as a whole."
The bill, H.R. 1592, authorizes the United States Attorney General to provide assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any crime that is motivated by prejudice; and would augment current federal hate crimes law, which was enacted nearly 40 years ago, to include hate crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability in addition to race, color, national origin and religion.
Following a vote of 20 to 14 in the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on April 25, the bill, which Congresswoman Bono was an original co-sponsor, passed on the House floor with a vote of 237 to 180.
If enacted, this legislation will amend the federal criminal code to prohibit willfully causing bodily injury to any person based on the aforementioned personal characteristics.
"Law enforcement is now one step closer to getting the extra tools they need to combat hate violence," said Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign. "Hate crimes continue to spread fear and violence among entire communities of Americans and currently, law enforcement can use these additional tools and resources to prevent and prosecute them."
The Local Law Enforcement Hates Crimes Prevention Act also directs the Attorney General to give priority for assistance to crimes committed by offenders who have committed crimes in more than one state and to rural jurisdictions that have difficulty covering the extraordinary investigation or prosecution expenses.
An identical companion bill was introduced April 12, 2007, in the U.S. Senate by Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR).