Hate crimes bill launched in House

DallasVoice.com – By Tammye Nash – Senior Editor

Civil rights, law enforcement groups back legislation

U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-MI, on Tuesday, March 20, introduced the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and more than 100 other members of Congress also backed the bill as it was introduced.

The measure would extend the federal definition of a hate crime to include violence based on the victim?s sexual orientation or gender identity. It would also provide added resources to help local law enforcement agencies combat hate crimes.

The bill would give the Justice Department the power to investigate crimes in which the victim was targeted based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It also allows the Justice Department to assist state and local jurisdictions in investigating hate crimes resulting in death or serious bodily injury, either by lending assistance or by taking the lead in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes when state or local authorities are unwilling or unable to.