Human Rights Campaign
For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
'Clergy Call for Justice and Equality' Featured Prominent Faith Leaders Calling for Fairness for All God’s Children
WASHINGTON — In a historic showing of religious support for the passage of two major pieces of civil rights legislation, hundreds of clergy from a diverse reflection of America’s faith backgrounds gathered on Capitol Hill today to lobby their respective members of Congress to end workplace discrimination against their fellow brothers and sisters and pass the much-needed hate crimes bill this year.
"For too long, there has been a false perception in American politics that faith and religion stand diametrically opposed to equality for GLBT Americans,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "The hundreds of clergy joining us are here because they understand that we are all God’s children, and our differing sexual orientations and our differing gender identities are not shameful sins, but rather amazing gifts from God."
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, called the Matthew Shepard Act in the Senate, adds sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to existing federal law conferring authority on the federal government to investigate and prosecute violent crimes. This authority already exists for crimes committed because of the victim’s race, color, religion and national origin and because they were attempting to exercise a federally protected right. The bill ensures a federal backstop to assist local law enforcement in those cases in which they request assistance or fail to adequately investigate or prosecute these serious crimes. The bill would also provide assistance to local law enforcement for investigating and prosecuting bias-motivated violent crimes.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote an employee simply based on the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It would reinforce the principle that employment decisions should be based on a person’s qualifications and job performance.
Said the Rev. Susan Russell, senior associate for parish life at All Saints Episcopal Church (Pasadena, Calif.):"My son Jaime is currently serving on active duty in Iraq. One of the core American values he was raised to embrace — and he understands himself to be defending — is our pledge to be a nation of ‘liberty and justice for all.’ I believe these important pieces of legislation will help move us as a nation toward that long-dreamed-of goal — that dream of liberty and justice my son and so many other brave Americans in harm’s way have sworn to preserve and protect."
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