Federal Hate Crimes bill should include transgender community
The battle over the Federal Hate Crimes bill has moved into the United States Senate. This year, there are two versions of the bill, which have been introduced. The version introduced in House of Representatives by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Michigan), includes language that explicitly covers the transgender community for the first time. This version, H.R.2662, passed by a vote of 223 to 199 on Tuesday, September 14. Three Tennesseans voted in favor of the bill: Jim Cooper, Harold Ford, Jr., and Bart Gordon.
The Senate version of the bill, S.1145 by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) still does not cover transgender persons. Senator Kennedy has decided to push his version despite tremendous opposition from the transgender community and its allies. In mid October 39 national civil rights, religious, and education organizations sent a letter to members of the Senate encouraging them to support only the House version. The groups that signed this letter are:
- The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
- American Association of People with Disabilities
- American Association of University Women (AAUW)
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- American Humanist Association
- The American Jewish Committee
- Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
- Asian American Justice Center (formerly NAPALC)
- Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere
- Disciples Justice Action Network (Disciples of Christ)
- The Episcopal Church
- Equal Partners in Faith
- Equality Federation: Statewide Advocates for LGBT Justice
- Family Pride Coalition
- Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
- The Interfaith Alliance
- Japanese American Citizens League
- Log Cabin Republicans
- Mautner Project
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
- National Association of LGBT Community Centers
- National Black Justice Coalition
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)
- National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)
- National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
- National Latino/a Coalition for Justice
- The National Lesbian Health Organization
- National Organization for Women (NOW)
- National Stonewall Democrats
- Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-FLAG)
- People For the American Way
- Pride At Work, AFL-CIO
- Transgender Law and Policy Institute
- Transgender Law Center
- Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
- United Church of Christ , Justice and Witness Ministries
- United States Student Association
This summer at its national meeting in Nashville the National Organization for Women (NOW) passed a resolution stating they would actively oppose any civil rights legislation that was not fully inclusive of transgendered persons. Transgender activists around the country have welcomed the support of NOW and all of the other allies who signed the letter.
While state groups were not asked to be co-signers, the Tennessee Transgender Political Action Committee (TTPAC) endorses the letter and its members have met with the staff of Senator Lamar Alexander encouraging him to support only the House language of the Hate Crimes bill.
Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia have hate crimes laws that include coverage of transgender people. Maryland became the most recent state to add such language to its statute on May 26. Tennessee is not one of those nine states.
The Senate is expected to take up Hate Crimes legislation in January.
Senator Alexander can be reached through the Senate website at www.senate.gov. He also has offices in Blountville, Chattanooga , Jackson , Knoxville , Memphis , and Nashville .
For more information about the Tennessee Transgender Political Action Committee, visit www.tenntg.com or contact TTGPAC@aol.com, PO Box 92335 , Nashville , TN 37209.