THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today, the Republican leadership made a serious mistake by stripping the hate crimes legislation from the Department of Defense Authorization bill, despite strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. The Republican leaders have turned their backs on legislation designed to send the message that all persons should be treated the same under the law -- no matter what their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.
This legislation would enhance the Federal government's ability to prosecute violent crimes motivated by race, color, religion, or national origin and would authorize Federal prosecution of crimes motivated by sexual orientation, gender, or disability. This legislation also recognizes that State and local law enforcement still have primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.
It has been over two years since the brutal dragging death of James Byrd, Jr., and about two years since the heinous death of young Mathew Shepard. We owe their families - and all the families of hate crimes victims across this country - no less than to pass this legislation this year. Working with the bipartisan coalition that supports hate crimes legislation, I will continue to fight the Republican leadership in Congress to make sure this important work gets done this year.