Monday, July 23, 2007

Federal Hate Crime Legislation: The Tip of the Iceberg

At the federal level, there's a lot of attention being paid to the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. If it passes, it will be a good set of legal and public policy changes. It allows for federal assistance in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes in state and local jurisdictions that are unable (ie. because of a lack of funds) or unwilling to effectively enforce their existing hate crime laws. It's a good balance between federal and state rights, while also encouraging action by law enforcement where it's urgently needed: at the state and local level. Also it incorporates trans people into hate crime statistics collection, which, while very flawed at the federal level in general, is an important reform, nonetheless.

Of equal importance is the activity and organizational reality semi-visible beneath the water. This legislation it has drawn together a large, multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-faith, cross-class and disability rights alliance: for example, supporters include the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, the Interfaith Alliance, UNITE, and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. The LLEHCPA represents an important new phase in the growth of the transgender movement: the creation of a coalition-based movement whose allies now extend beyond lesbian, gay and bisexual groups. LGB groups remain vital, not least of all simply because lesbian, gay and bisexual trans people exist. But they are not our only allies, anymore.

This change also marks the fact that it is no longer viable for the transgender movement to build organizations or develop agendas without a clear commitment to anti-racism, economic justice, religious tolerance and equality for persons with disabilities.

No comments: