Human Rights Campaign Applauds Oregon State House of Representatives for Supporting Federal Hate Crimes Legislation

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)– The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today praised the Oregon State House of Representatives for unanimously passing last night a resolution 59-0 that requested the United States Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA) and condemned a recent brutal beating of two gay men at a Seaside, Oregon beach.

“We applaud the Oregon State House of Representatives for showing leadership on this issue and moving to condemn this senseless act of violence,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “We would also like to thank and congratulate them for taking the official position of urging Congress to pass, and the President to sign, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.”

The two men, Samson Deal and Kevin Petterson, were on spring break March 22 at a Seaside, Oregon beach when several men dressed in black approached them from behind and beat them until they fell unconscious.  After an initial review of the case, Seaside Police Chief Bob Goss announced that his department would be treating this as a hate crime because the victims indicated that the assailants had yelled anti-gay slurs during the attack.

“Crimes like these have no place in today’s society,” said Cristina Finch, Senior Counsel for the Human Rights Campaign.  “The vicious attack on Samson and Kevin underscores the need for the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  Unlike Oregon, most states do not have a hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.  Passage of the LLEHCPA will help ensure that all hate crimes are fully investigated and prosecuted.  No one should live in fear because of who they are.”

Hate crimes continue to spread fear and violence among entire communities of Americans. In 2007, the FBI documented 7,624 hate crime incidents in the United States — almost 21 victims a day.  Oregon reported more than 150 bias-motivated incidents in 2007 alone.  Combating this bias-motivated violence presents local law enforcement with an immense task.  Prosecution of such crimes often proves complex and requires many resources.

The importance of the LLEHCPA is that it provides resources to state and local governments for the investigation and prosecution of bias-motivated, violent crimes. The bill also ensures a federal backstop to assist local law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of violent, bias-motivated crime.

For more information on the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, please visit:  www.FightHateNow.org.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.