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AG Holder's LGBT & Gender Comments At Anti-Defamation League's 2009 American Heritage Dinner

From the remarks prepared for delivery by Attorney General Eric Holder at the Anti-Defamation League’s 2009 American Heritage Dinner, where he mentions the add of sexual orientation, gender identity, and perceived gender to the new hate crimes legislation (emphasis added):

…In the last ten years, approximately half of all reported hate crimes were racially motivated. But I don’t need to tell this organization that other groups are targets of hate crimes too. Hatred associated with religion has generally accounted for the second highest number of hate crimes incidents. This is closely followed by animus against individuals because of their sexual orientation. Hate crimes against individuals of Hispanic or Latino national origin, and those perceived to be immigrants, have increased four years in a row, amounting to a total increase of 40%. The ADL has done important work documenting increased activity by hate groups who recruit new members using virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric that they present as legitimate opinion. Such language can have a devastating effect not just on an individual, but on

an entire community.

Against this backdrop, the new hate crimes legislation will arrive not a moment too soon. And on the day that it becomes law, we will hasten to begin using it.

The new law expands the list of protected categories beyond race, color, religion, or national origin, and, for the first time, allows the federal government to prosecute violence undertaken because of the actual or perceived gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability of any person. Under the law about to be replaced, these crimes fell entirely outside the reach of federal law enforcement, and only a handful of state laws offer such protection. And let me add that the change allowing us to prosecute crimes motivated by gender is particularly satisfying because it comes in the middle of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In my Justice Department, we will make combating violence against women a top priority.

We will also continue to defend vigilantly the civil rights of all people in this country, and prosecute criminal acts of discrimination wherever we find them…

This take on hate crimes legislation is good news for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, but will likely be taken as bad news by the usual suspects of “Christian” conservative organizations.

Well, as someone who reads what many religious right people and organizations have to say on LGBT people and issues, let me say that in my mind there’s no doubt that we’re going to see another explosion of “thought crime” and “It’s Anti-Christian!” rhetoric from the conservative “Christian” organizations when the hate crimes legislation is actually signed by President Obama.

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Autumn Sandeen

Autumn Sandeen