Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today on President Obama signing into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation deters hate crimes by expanding federal protections and giving state and local law enforcement the tools to prosecute hate crimes based on sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, national origin, disability, or gender identity.
"America's history has been marked by moments of progress, by acts of courage and conviction, and by principled stands on the side of justice and equality. Our nation's promise has been sustained by the idea that diversity is a source of strength, not a cause for division. In this country, no one should suffer persecution, discrimination, or violence because of who they are, how they look, or what they believe.
"Taking inspiration from the lives, stories, and tragedies of Matthew Shepard, James Byrd, Jr., and countless other victims of hate crimes, this legislation helps better ensure the fundamental right of all Americans to feel safe and secure in their own communities.
"I applaud my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who supported this measure. And I commend President Obama for signing this bill into law and joining Congress in declaring that acts of hatred and bigotry have no place in the United States of America."