October 28, 2009
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers
On the Hate Crimes Prevention Act
President Obama is scheduled to sign the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act today. The act gives law enforcement additional tools to combat crimes committed based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. AFT President Randi Weingarten will attend the White House signing ceremony.
WASHINGTON—By signing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, President Obama will demonstrate his commitment to the equal rights and safety of all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender or disability. This legislation reaffirms our country’s dedication to equality by providing law enforcement with new tools to better address, investigate and punish all criminal acts motivated by hatred and bigotry.
An active proponent of fair treatment and equal rights for all citizens, the American Federation of Teachers applauds Congress and the Obama administration for supporting this strengthened version of the original Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a product of over 10 years of advocacy by the Shepard and Byrd families, and civil rights groups.
For those who have lived in fear because of prejudice, this act provides assurance that our nation is committed to becoming a more just society. This long-awaited legislation puts the full weight of the law behind the fundamental American value of “liberty and justice for all.”
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.