Friday, October 30, 2009

President Obama ACTS! The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act is LAW!!!

He did it!

Here's the transcript of a portion of President Obama's remarks from the signing ceremony on Wednesday:

After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are. (Applause.)

I promised Judy Shepard, when she saw me in the Oval Office, that this day would come, and I'm glad that she and her husband Dennis could join us for this event. I'm also honored to have the family of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, who fought so hard for this legislation. And Vicki and Patrick, Kara, everybody who's here, I just want you all to know how proud we are of the work that Ted did to help this day -- make this day possible. So -- and thank you for joining us here today. (Applause.)

So, with that, I'm going to sign this piece of legislation. Thank you all for doing a great job. All right.

(The Act is signed.) (Applause.)

As Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign said in their email blast about this,

This is the first time ANY federal equality measure protecting LGBT rights has become law. The very first time. And it is the first federal law to explicitly protect transgender people. It is a touchstone in our movement, a triumph of what is right. And I truly feel things will never be the same.

Joe goes on to say that:

It took twelve years, over one million emails, faxes and phone calls to Congress, and 14 separate votes on the floors of the House and the Senate to turn the hate crimes bill into law.

It took too many innocent people dying.

And it took so many people standing up for what is right - even when it was hard, or there was a cost to it.

We now have a Law that explicitly says that targeting Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender People is WRONG. A Law that proclaims that we, members of the Gay community, are legally protected.

I do think that all crime is a form of hate crime. But having the Law of this land state unequivocally that GLBTQ people are to be protected is huge.

Here's a quote from the text of the new Law:

A prominent characteristic of a violent crime motivated by bias is that it devastates not just the actual victim and the family and friends of the victim, but frequently savages the community sharing the traits that caused the victim to be selected.

And that's true.

This Law changes the MYTH of what's okay in our society. It's no longer "okay" to gay-bash.

And that is huge.

The world is changing. We finally have some solid ACTION, some results, from electing President Obama.

And we have Halloween weekend to celebrate.

And then, Monday morning, let's stand up and keep fighting for not just our equality, but for what we teach our kids that America is all about:

Equality for all. Liberty and justice for all.

I can see the future. And it's getting better.

Namaste, and Happy Halloween!


Here's the full text of the new Law on the Library Of Congress website.


fairyhedgehog said...

This is good news for all of us, straight and gay, US citizens and in the UK. (Because what the US does has a profound impact on us over here.)

Good on President Obama!

Brian the Librarian said...

Amen. And about damn time.

Anonymous said...

Excellent news!