Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kennedy Championed the fight against US Hate Crime

US Senator Ted Kennedy, who died this week age 77, was a champion of the battle against Hate Crime in the USA and a tenacious advocate of the proposed Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, according to Innokenty Grekov of Human Rights First.

Ted Kennedy was one of the Senate's earliest champions in the fight against hate crime. Since the early 1990s, Senator Kennedy has called for better government response to the growing problem of violence motivated by racism, religious intolerance, sexual orientation bias or other similar factors. For example, in one of his most courageous political moments, Senator Kennedy argued in favor of legislation protecting those who face violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. He spoke out after realizing that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, as well as those who seek to protect their rights, have been threatened by a particularly aggressive wave of bias-motivated violence.

Senator Kennedy later went to on to compare hate crimes to "acts of domestic terrorism" and worked tirelessly to pass hate crimes legislation in the Senate. In 2007, he joined Sen. Gordon Smith in a bipartisan effort to pass the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The bill failed to advance in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but that not deter Senator Kennedy. He continued to fight, and just this year, the Senate adopted this critical measure as part of the Defense Authorization Bill.

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