Demand Comprehensive Hate Crime Legislation

On May 16, 2007, Sean Kennedy, a 20-year old gay man, was attacked on the streets of Greenville, South Carolina. He died of his injuries later that night. Yet, because of the lack of hate crimes legislation, his attacker will be eligible for parole in as little as 10 months.

Sean was a brave young man with a bright, infectious smile. But his life was cut short and justice left unserved.

As it stands now, 23 states, including South Carolina, do not have hate crime laws that include sexual orientation, but passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Action (LLEHCPA) would change that by strengthening existing laws and allowing the Department of Justice to assist local prosecutions, and where appropriate, investigate and prosecute cases.

Sean's death shows that comprehensive hate crime legislation is urgently needed. Please support the LLEHCPA.
I write today as a supporter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to urge you to pass hate crimes legislation. As hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans continue to rise, it is imperative that Congress pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA). The recent, tragic attack on Sean Kennedy, a young gay man in South Carolina, shows that a comprehensive hate crimes bill that includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression is urgently needed and long overdue.

Only 27 states and the District of Columbia have hate crimes laws inclusive of sexual orientation, and only five of those and the District of Columbia are expressly transgender inclusive. Passage of the LLEHCPA will strengthen existing laws by allowing the Department of Justice to assist local prosecutions, and where appropriate, investigate and prosecute cases.

Law enforcement officials need and want, hate crimes legislation too. Support from notable law enforcement agencies and state and local leaders includes 22 state attorneys general, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Foundation and the National Sheriffs' Association. More than 175 law enforcement, civil rights and religious organizations support passage of this critical legislation.

Our LGBT loved ones deserve to be protected and law enforcement needs the tools necessary to investigate and prosecute crimes motivated by hate. I, along with the over 200,000 members and supporters of PFLAG urge you to support the LLEHCPA and take a strong stand for our families and friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
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