LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT HATE CRIMES PREVENTION ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - May 03, 2007)
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Ms. PELOSI. I thank the distinguished chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Conyers, for yielding time, but more importantly, for bringing this important legislation to the floor in his ongoing, long commitment to justice in our country. And I want to commend Congresswoman TAMMY BALDWIN and Chairman BARNEY FRANK for their leadership. It is an honor to call you colleague. Thank you for giving us the opportunity today to make America more American.
Every day we come to this floor, we honor the tradition of our Founders, that every person is created equal, and that we are all God's children. Every day that we come to this floor, we pledge allegiance to the flag, and at the end of that pledge we say ``with liberty and justice for all.'' That is what today is about. Because in the preamble to the Constitution, which we take an oath to, we talk about forming a more perfect union. Our Founders knew that our Constitution had to be amended. They knew that we had to move to a more perfect union in terms of legislation to reflect the values of our country. And so we are here today to extend to the hate crimes legislation others who have had hate crimes committed against them. The record is clear.
What I am so interested in is the fact that so many law enforcement organizations have endorsed this legislation. My colleagues have spoken very eloquently as to why this is about the values of our country. They have spoken very clearly about the need for this legislation. And if it has been said, I think it bears repeating that the law enforcement organizations, many of them, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Sheriffs Association, the Police Executive Research Forum, as well as nearly 30 attorney generals across the country, support need for Federal hate crime legislation. They are joined by more than 230 civil rights, education, religious and civic organizations who have voiced their support. Let us be clear that this Congress, this House of Representatives, have heard their call.
Hate crimes, as have been said, have no place in America, no place where we pledge every morning ``with liberty and justice for all.'' We must act to end hate crimes and save lives.
Mr. Speaker, the legislation will help prevent bias-motivated violence based on religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, national origin or disability, while respecting the first amendment rights of free speech and religious expression. It increases the ability of State, local and Federal law enforcement agencies to solve a wide range of violent hate crimes.
We in our country take pride in saying that we are moving to end discrimination of all kinds. Today, we have an opportunity to end discrimination and the violence that goes with it that equal a hate crime. So whatever you may think of any one of us, based on our ethnicity or our gender or whatever, you have no right to act upon that opinion in a violent way. Who would disagree with that? That is why I hope that we can send a clear message from the Congress that this Congress does not agree with that and pass this legislation.
Who of us can think of the story of the Shepard family and the Byrd family and so many examples that we have of this and not say that is wrong. And at the very least, we can pass legislation that tells Federal authorities that they can assist State and local authorities in enforcing the law. Over 100,000 hate crimes reported since 1991. There are so many more that go unreported, many of them unprosecuted.
So today, let us take this step forward that is consistent with the values of our Founders, both in terms of all being equal, and our faith that we are all God's children, but also consistent with the call and the preamble to form a more perfect union.
Again, passing this legislation makes America more American. I urge a ``yes'' vote.
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