By LINDA DEUTSCH, AP Special Correspondent
LOS ANGELES -- One of Anna Nicole Smith's doctors worried about his own drug use and his professionalism after he kissed her and prescribed her highly addictive drugs, according to his diary, which was read in court.
Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry read the explosive entries from Dr. Sandeep Kapoor's diary Wednesday at a preliminary hearing to determine whether Kapoor, Smith's boyfriend Howard K. Stern and her psychiatrist Khristine Eroshevich should stand trial on charges of illegally funnelling drugs to the former Playboy model.
The hearing is scheduled to continue Thursday.
Kapoor's lawyer previously said he was gay and objected to prosecutors' allegations that he had a sexual relationship with Smith that could have contributed to his prescribing drugs for her.
However, Kapoor's June 13, 2005, diary entry appeared to confirm what prosecutors said they saw in video and photographs taken at a party around that time. The judge has ruled against showing the video in court.
"I was making out with Anna, my patient, blurring the lines," the judge read from Kapoor's diary. "I gave her methadone, Valium. Can she ruin me?"
The entry also recounted his ride with Smith in a gay pride parade before the party, with six police officers keeping back the paparazzi. "It was mesmerizing. ... Anna and me up there all buffed out on the car," the entry said.
In an excerpt from Nov. 17, 2002, Kapoor wrote, "I also need to get off the drugs. The Buspar, Wellbutrin have to go. But first the Ambien has got to go. Oh God, it's so addicting. I have to get off that (expletive)."
Buspar is an anti-anxiety drug, while Wellbutrin is used to treat depression. Ambien is used to counter insomnia.
Kapoor later prescribed Ambien for Smith, according to testimony.
Earlier in the day, a medical board investigator testified that Kapoor kept a hidden stash of Smith's medical records in his home that included references to possible drug addictions.
Investigators found files containing Smith's medical records hidden in the kitchen and on the floor of a closet in the doctor's home after Smith died, investigator Jon Genens said.
Authorities later seized another set of records at the office of Kapoor's attorney. All the records were either in the name of Smith or Michelle Chase, a pseudonym she used, Genens said.
The two sets of files were for the same dates but included slightly different information, he said.
Perry said the secreting of information at the house could be interpreted as "guilty knowledge." He did not elaborate.
Rusty Gordon, a feminist and lesbian activist from West Palm Beach, died Tuesday night at her home. Her partner, Davy Whims, was with her. A memorial service is being planned, tentatively in early December, according to Ray Rideout.
A brief tribute to Gordon (1942-2009) has been posted on Pam’s House Blend blog. Click here to read it.
By MARGARET TALEV, McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation, a milestone that activists compared to the passage of 1960s civil rights legislation empowering blacks.
The new law adds acts of violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to the list of federal hate crimes. Gay rights activists voiced hope that the Obama administration would advance more issues, including legislation to bar workplace discrimination, allow military service and recognize same-sex marriages.
Congress passed the hate crimes protections as an unlikely amendment to this year's Defense Authorization Act. Obama, speaking at an emotional evening reception with supporters of the legislation, said that more than 12,000 hate crimes had been reported the past decade based on sexual orientation.
He spoke of President Lyndon Johnson signing protections for blacks in the 1960s and said this was an extension of that work. "We must stand against crimes that are meant not only to break bones but to break spirits," Obama said. "No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love."
Legislation barring firms from firing employees on the basis of their sexual orientation could win passage in the House of Representatives by year's end, gay rights advocates said. More than half of U.S. states currently allow employers such freedom.
Obama has promised to push Congress to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits being openly gay while serving. A Senate panel is expected to hold a hearing on that issue next month, and legislation could be debated next year.
Gay rights activists also hope for repeal next year of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which would give federal legitimacy to gay marriages recorded in states that allow them.
The amendment signed into law Wednesday was named partly for Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming who died after a 1998 beating targeting him because he was gay, and whose parents were instrumental in leading the fight for such legislation. The law also was named for James Byrd Jr., a black Texas man dragged to his death in a racially motivated killing the same year.
The measure also extends protections to those attacked because of their gender or disability.
Federal hate crimes law already covers race, religion and national origin. The new law strengthened it substantially, however, by removing a requirement that a victim must have been participating at the time of the assault in some federally protected activity, such as voting, for it to apply.
Matthew Shepard's parents joined Obama for the ceremony, as did the family of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who until his death in August was deeply involved in pushing the legislation.
The Shepards' fight took a decade. With recent elections adding more lawmakers who are supportive of gay rights, by 2007 the Congress had sufficient votes to pass the legislation, but then-President George W. Bush indicated that he'd veto it.
Obama, campaigning last year, promised to sign it.
Judy Shepard issued a statement saying that she and her husband, Dennis, "are incredibly grateful to Congress and the president for taking this step forward on behalf of hate crime victims and their families, especially given the continuing attacks on people simply for living their lives openly and honestly."
She also called on Americans to look beyond legislation and work in their own lives to advance acceptance of gays.
Critics of the legislation, including several Republican congressional leaders, argued that an attack against another person is an attack, regardless of motivation, and that no special categories are appropriate.
Many also voiced concerns about "thought police" and fears that the new legal protections could curb free speech if those who oppose gay rights fear they could somehow be prosecuted for publicly voicing their thoughts. But the law punishes acts - not thoughts.
Gay rights advocates said that the legislation will enable the Justice Department to step in when states can't or won't, and will make extra federal money and resources available to local law enforcement officials who need help preventing or prosecuting such attacks.
They also predicted that it would affect American society in a meaningful way.
"It sends a number of messages across America: that hate will not be tolerated, that this Congress and administration value all Americans," said Joe Solmonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay rights advocacy group.
Malcolm Lazin, the founder of another advocacy group, Equality Forum, said the legislative progress comes at a time when reported violence against gays is on the rise. Last year, he said, 29 gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender Americans were killed because of their sexual orientation, and that since Shepard's death, more than 16,000 hate crimes have been reported.
"This is really the first federal gay rights bill," Lazin said. "So it is a literally historic moment. This is America acknowledging homophobia as a social problem."
Lazin, who helped organize a demonstration outside the White House on Wednesday calling for more protections, said the legislation "really is the beginning of a process of addressing homophobia in our schools, our communities, our culture. We learned from the black civil rights movement: In 1964, there was the Civil Rights Act, but that didn't mean it ended violence or created equality. It was the beginning of a process that's ongoing. That's how we view the Matthew Shepard Act."
From Nadine Smith at Equality Florida:
It's been just one month since five Florida performances were announced for Buju Banton. Since then, three venues have canceled the notorious singer whose lyrics call for the torture and murder of gay people.
His song "Boom Bye Bye" is advocates pouring acid on LGBT people, "burning them up bad like an old tire wheel", and shooting them in the head with an AK-47. He also sings "Anytime Buju Banton come, f--gots get up and run ... they have to die".
Do your part to stand up to anti-gay incitements to violence. Sign the letter to venue owners and elected officials.
Buju Banton is still scheduled to perform in three Florida cities this week. Thursday, Oct. 29th, in Jacksonville, Friday. Saturday, Oct. 31st, in Miami; and a new date was added for Friday, Oct. 30th, in St. Petersburg.
We will present this letter to venue owners and elected officials
While other cities in Florida and across the country have canceled Bantons concerts, the venues in Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, and Miami have not yet responded. We're calling upon the venue owners and elected officials to take a stand against hate.
"Boom Bye Bye" has become an international gay bashing anthem. In 2004, Brian Williamson, Jamaica's leading gay activist, was violently chopped to death with a machete in his apartment in Kingston. A reporter walked to his street shortly after the murder and found a crowd of people gathered outside Williamson’s apartment singing and celebrating his murder and shouting the chorus of “Boom Bye Bye”.
Equality Florida staff have received an unprecedented flood of hate mail and threats in response to our public opposition to Banton's hateful lyrics. One staff member received a letter stating: "YOU ARE STARTING A WAR IN WHICH YOU WILL BE KILLED" And another says "YOU'LL BE 6 FEET UNDER PERMANENTLY."
WE MUST STAND UP TO THESE HATEFUL ATTACKS
So far, due to an outpouring of opposition from Equality Florida members and community allies, management at the venues in Tampa and Orlando have canceled Banton's performances; the Tallahassee event in now listed as withdrawn on the Eventful.com website; and Toyota has dropped it's sponsorship of the Miami event. Jacksonville management has not responded.
Do your part to stand up to hate in these communities.
Sign onto the letter that we will send to the venue owners and elected officials in Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, and Miami.
Obama: ‘We've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are’
From The White House:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 28, 2009
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT THE SIGNING OF THE NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
FOR FISCAL YEAR 2010
2:42 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Please, everybody be seated.
Good afternoon. I have often said that meeting our greatest challenges would require not only changing policies in Washington but changing the way business is done in Washington; that it would require a government that's more efficient and effective and less influenced by lobbyists and parochial politics. And I'm pleased to say that when it comes to the defense bill I'm about to sign into law, we've taken some important steps towards that goal.
I want to acknowledge my outstanding Vice President, Joe Biden. (Applause.) Attorney General Eric Holder is here. (Applause.) And all members of Congress who are joining us here today, thank you very much for your outstanding work. You can give members of Congress a round of applause. (Applause.)
As Commander-in-Chief, I will always do whatever it takes to keep the American people safe, to defend this nation. And that's why this bill provides for the best military in the history of the world. It reaffirms our commitment to our brave men and women in uniform and our wounded warriors. It expands family leave rights for the family members of our troops and veterans. And it makes investments in the capabilities necessary to meet 21st century challenges.
But I have always rejected the notion that we have to waste billions of dollars of taxpayer money to keep this nation secure. In fact, I think that wasting these dollars makes us less secure. And that's why we have passed a defense bill that eliminates some of the waste and inefficiency in our defense process -- reforms that will better protect our nation, better protect our troops, and save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.
Now, at the outset, let me just say that this effort would not have been possible without an extraordinary Secretary of Defense. And so I want to thank publicly Bob Gates for his service to our nation. (Applause.)
Having served under eight Presidents of both parties, this is a man who understands that our defense budget isn't about politics, it's about the security of our country, and who knows that every dollar wasted is a dollar we can't spend to care for our troops or protect the homeland.
And over the last several months, he took that fight to Congress. He challenged conventional thinking, and he emerged with several critical victories. So on behalf of the American people, I want to thank you, Bob, for your extraordinary efforts. (Applause.)
Now, Bob couldn't have been successful had it not been for the next person I want to introduce -- Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He provided wise counsel and stood with us in our efforts to initiate reform, even though it probably occasionally caused some heartburn inside of the Pentagon as well, because change is hard. And so I'm very grateful for his leadership and excellent work. Please give -- (applause.)
And finally, I want to thank the members of Congress, particularly Senators Carl Levin and John McCain, and Congressmen Ike Skelton and Buck McKeon. As the chairmen and ranking members of their respective committees, they did an outstanding job.
Now, this bill isn't perfect. This bill is an important step forward, but it's just a first step. There's still more waste we need to cut. There are still more fights that we need to win. Changing the culture in Washington will take time and sustained effort. And that's why Secretary Gates and I will continue waging these battles in the months and years ahead.
But I will say that when Secretary Gates and I first proposed going after some of these wasteful projects, there were a lot of people in this town who didn't think it was possible, who were certain we were going to lose, who were certain that we would get steamrolled, who argued that the special interests were too entrenched, and that Washington was simply too set in its ways.
And so I think it's important to note today we have proven them wrong. Today we're putting an end to some wasteful projects that lawmakers have tried to kill for years. And we're doing this because Secretary Gates and I both know that we can't build the 21st century military we need unless we fundamentally reform the way our defense establishment does business. The Government Accountability Office, the GAO, has looked into 96 major defense projects from the last year, and found cost overruns that totaled $296 billion, an amount of money that would have paid our troops' salaries and provided benefits for their families for more than a year.
And we all know where this kind of waste comes from -- indefensible, no-bid contracts that cost taxpayers billions and make contractors rich; special interests and their exotic projects that are years behind schedule and billions over budget; entrenched lobbyists pushing weapons that even our military says it doesn't want and doesn't need -- the impulse in Washington to win political points back home by building things that we don't need at costs we can't afford. This waste would be unacceptable at any time, but at a time when we're fighting two wars and facing a serious deficit, it's inexcusable. It's unconscionable. It's an affront to the American people and to our troops, and it has to stop.
And already I've put an end to unnecessary no-bid contracts. I signed bipartisan legislation to reform defense procurement so weapons systems don't spin out of control. And even as we made critical investments in the equipment and weapons our troops do need, we're eliminating tens of billions of dollars in waste we don't need. So no longer will we be spending nearly $2 billion to buy more F-22 fighter jets that the Pentagon says they don't need. This bill also terminates troubled and massively over budget programs such as the Future Combat Systems, the Airborne Lasers, the Combat Search and Rescue helicopter, and a new presidential helicopter that costs nearly as much as Air Force One. I won't be flying on that.
At the same time, we accelerated or increased weapons programs needed to confront real and growing threats -- the Joint Strike Fighter, the Littoral Combat Ship, and more helicopters and reconnaissance support for our troops at the front.
And this bill also reduces waste and fraud in our contracting system, as well as our reliance on private contractors for jobs that federal employees have the expertise and the training to do.
So today I'm pleased to say that we have proved that change is possible. It may not come quickly, or all at once, but if you push hard enough, it does come eventually.
Now, speaking of that, there is one more long-awaited change contained within this legislation that I'll be talking about a little more later today. After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are. (Applause.)
I promised Judy Shepard, when she saw me in the Oval Office, that this day would come, and I'm glad that she and her husband Dennis could join us for this event. I'm also honored to have the family of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, who fought so hard for this legislation. And Vicki and Patrick, Kara, everybody who's here, I just want you all to know how proud we are of the work that Ted did to help this day -- make this day possible. So -- and thank you for joining us here today. (Applause.)
So, with that, I'm going to sign this piece of legislation. Thank you all for doing a great job. All right.
(The Act is signed.) (Applause.)
News release from SAVE DADE:
After the world outbreak of the ZMBV (commonly known as the “zombie virus”) everybody is seeking for safeguard, even famous people. That is why a group of South Florida celebrities and personalities are checking into the only place in Miami where they can find shelter, and the most fun, wicked and scariest experience they could ever imagine: “Asylum”.
For its 15th anniversary, SAVE Dade’s Halloween fundraiser, one of the best and oldest Halloween parties in Miami has been re-imagined as “Asylum,” a creepy retreat where you can escape the exhaustion and stress of the outer world.
“The concept was born out of the desire to incorporate the scary and eerie aspects that have become ubiquitous with Halloween, and the double meaning of the word ‘asylum’ as a place of sanctuary for the LGBT community and its friends,” explains CJ Ortuño, SAVE Dade’s executive director.
Since 1993, SAVE Dade Inc, has helped raise awareness about issues important to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and has been instrumental in achieving rights and protections for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in Miami-Dade County.
Some of the celebrities and personalities that already confirmed their commitment to Asylum include channel 7 NEWS anchor Craig Stevens; MTV’s Real World/Road Rules reality TV star and personal fitness trainer, Rachel Robinson; The Miami Herald gay and lesbian issues journalist, Steve Rothaus; MTV’s Real World reality TV star and dolphin trainer, JD Ordoñez; and City of Miami District 3 Commissioner, Joe Sanchez. The guest celebrities will also be the judges for the costume contest.
“I think it’s a crucial time for every person to take every opportunity to support equality, and going to SAVE Dade’s Halloween event is the perfect excuse to party and support a good cause! I love the party’s new branding and I know this year is going to be the most amazing ever,” said fitness trainer and reality TV star Rachel Robinson.
Miami native reality TV star JD Ordoñez said supporting and giving back to the community was very important to him. “I’m going to Asylum to contribute to my local community in a fun-filled fundraising event that doesn't have to drain my bank account such as other parties in Miami do.”
Asylum promises to be an interactive event like no other for celebrities, zombies, mortals and immortals alike: it will be part dance club, part horror house, part design lab, part masquerade ball, and part performance art space. Guests will be treated to a cutting-edge light show, performances throughout the space, a costume contest, and the latest in house and electronic music spun by world class DJ’s Ivan D, Charlmix and Sayho.
VIP guests will be treated to a premiere level of entertainment and exclusivity with free, preferred valet parking, a free 8 x 10 color photo courtesy of Jeff Bartucci Photography, a special 2nd story balcony VIP-only area; and a separate Grey Goose “Chill” lounge with its own DJ spinning, comfortable seating arrangements, an open bar and catered food service by Fratelli Lyon Driade, a modern interpretation of an enoteca and ristorante.
This year major companies have eagerly agreed to sponsor Asylum, including presenting sponsor Grey Goose, Coca-Cola, Bacardi and Presidente Imported Beer. Some of the media partners include The Wire Magazine, HotSpots, Ambiente Magazine, Biscayne Times, Sobe Social Club, Sobegayinfo.com and Mark’s List. The Grey Goose “Chill” Lounge has been generously underwritten by Alberto Arias & Wood Kinnard, Dr. Larry Magas , and Robert Coward & Gregory Child. Valley Forge Fabrics will be providing materials for decoration and design throughout the event. Fratelli Lyon Driade will also provide a concession cafeteria with “out of this world treats” to the general admission guests’ delight. Other sponsors include UUFF!, Rachel Robinson Fitness, and Gretel Viñas Visual Communication.
“My friends and I can’t wait to celebrate Halloween with SAVE Dade. I checked into the Asylum and everybody should do the same, because let’s face it, it is the place to be for Halloween in Miami,” concluded Rachel Robinson.
Asylum is on October 31st from 8 p.m. to 2am at 4141 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL. Tickets are now on sale at $35 general admission and $90 VIP through October 30th. Prices at the door will be $45 for general and $100 VIP. To purchase tickets, visit 103109.com, savedade.org or call (305)751-7283. For more information you can e-mail questions to email@example.com
“Today marks a historic milestone for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and for the entire country. With the president’s signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, both sexual orientation and gender identity have, for the first time in U.S. history, been explicitly included in federal law.
“It has taken over a decade of perseverance to get to this momentous day, and we thank all those who have worked to achieve this incredible victory. Laws embody the values of our nation, and through the enactment of this hate crimes law, our country has — once and for all — sent a clear and unequivocal message that it rejects and condemns all forms of hate violence, including crimes motivated by hatred of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“We look forward to the days ahead when we will join together again to celebrate full equality and recognition of our community, including in employment, the military and in the full recognition of our families. The Task Force is committed to the work necessary to bring full equality to the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. We know that we have much work ahead of us. Today, we must pause and shine a light on this critical first step taken by Congress, and the willingness of this president to follow through on his promise to sign this legislation ensuring the laws of the land will protect all of us.” – REA CAREY, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
“I applaud the President and all of Congress for passing this historic bill into law. I also thank Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard’s mother, for her courageous battle and her work towards passing this Act. Her commitment and passion are a true testament to the love of a parent. As parents, it is our calling to protect our children and keep them safe. That is what motivates the heroism of LGBT parents each day as they work to create a better world for their children by telling their stories and making more welcoming schools, places of worship and government, one act, one institution at a time. Bias-motivated violence against any individual hurts our entire community. This bill will provide the resources and protections needed to ensure greater safety to our children, parents and all members of LGBT families.” – JENNIFER CHRISLER, Executive Director, Family Equality Council
“When Dennis and I started calling 10 years ago for federal action to prevent and properly prosecute hate crimes against gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans, we never imagined it would take this long.
“The legislation went through so many versions and so many votes that we had to constantly keep our hopes in check to keep from getting discouraged,” she continued. “But with President Obama’s support and the continually growing bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate lining up behind the bill this year, it became clear that 2009 was the year it would finally happen.
“We are incredibly grateful to Congress and the president for taking this step forward on behalf of hate crime victims and their families, especially given the continuing attacks on people simply for living their lives openly and honestly,” Shepard added. “But each of us can and must do much more to ensure true equality for all Americans.” – JUDY SHEPARD, Matthew’s mother and the president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board of Directors
“NJDC commends President Barack Obama for signing The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law.
“At a time when extremist violence can be seen all too frequently, this
new law will expand the scope of the federal hate crimes law to
include sexual orientation, disability, and gender identity.
“The American Jewish community has been a leading voice in advocating for expanded hate crimes legislation for years, as these crimes
victimize a much larger community, while fostering intolerance and
bigotry. The time for this powerful law enforcement and data
collection tool has long since arrived, and we thank the President for
helping our nation achieve this important milestone.” – MARC R. STANLEY, chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC)
“This law honors our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters whose lives were cut short because of hate. Today’s signing of the first major piece of civil rights legislation to protect LGBT Americans represents a historic milestone in the inevitable march towards equality. Although this is a major step in fighting the scourge of hate violence, it is not the end of the road. As a community, we will continue to dedicate ourselves to changing not only laws but also hearts and minds. We know that hate crimes not only harm individuals, but they terrorize entire communities. After more than a decade of advocacy, local police and sheriffs’ departments now have the full resources of the Justice Department available to them.
“We applaud President Obama for signing this bill into law and thank the leadership and our allies in the House and Senate. We also will always remember the tireless efforts of Senator Edward Kennedy on this issue. Senator Kennedy once said that this legislation sends ‘a message about freedom and equality that will resonate around the world.’ This marks the first time that we as a nation have explicitly protected the LGBT community in the law. And this law sends a loud message that perpetrators of hate violence against anyone will be brought to justice.” – JOE SOLMONESE, president, Human Rights Campaign
“The passage of this important, comprehensive and inclusive federal hate crimes law was long overdue. For 12 long years we have worked hard with coalition partners to build the case in Washington that this law was not just necessary, but vital to ensure that all victims of hate crimes would be covered, and that local and federal officials would have the tools they need to prosecute these horrific crimes to the fullest extent of the law. The passage of this bill is a monumental achievement, and a great day for America.” – ABRAHAM H. FOXMAN, national director, Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
"The bill President Obama signed into law today is an important step forward in giving America's valiant servicemembers and their families the supports they need and deserve. This new law expands on last year's first-ever expansion of the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Now, after today, families of veterans, rather than just active servicemembers, will be able to access 26 weeks of unpaid leave to care for wounded veteran family members.
“Equally important, today's action means that all military families, not just families of National Guard and Reserve members, will have access to 12 weeks of qualifying exigency leave. These are badly needed advances that will make a real difference to military families. We applaud lawmakers for taking these steps.
“But it is important to remember that millions of workers in this country still are not covered by the FMLA because they work for employers with fewer than 50 workers and/or they do not meet the law's tenure requirements. The nation has more work to do to ensure that all military families - and all workers - have the family and medical leave they need. We need to expand the FMLA to cover more workers who need leave for more reasons, and adopt paid leave so workers do not risk bankruptcy, poverty spells and foreclosures when they get sick or need to care for a loved one.
“In addition, the bill President Obama signed today extends the federal hate crime law to cover crimes based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and disability. This new law will provide badly-needed tools to address and help deter gender-bias hate crimes, making federal assistance available where it is needed most - when local authorities are unable or unwilling to prosecute violent crimes driven by the victim's gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. It sends a strong message that violent hate crimes fueled by gender bias are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This is most welcome and long overdue." – DEBRA L. NESS, president, National Partnership for Women & Families
“We’ve struggled for many years to enact this legislation, but I am deeply grateful to see these protections become federal law. This bill exemplifies our deepest American values, it ensures strong action against senseless violence against people targeted simply because of who they are, and furthermore it will protect the religious freedom of all clergy to speak out on any issue they feel passionately about. It is shameful that opponents of this bill and the Religious Right have waged a dishonest and unfair campaign against it, and I am thankful to all those who stood up to defend those most in need.” – THE REV. TIMOTHY McDONALD, People For the American Way board member and chairman of the African American Ministers In Action
"This is a historic moment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. For the first time ever, federally mandated civil rights for the LGBT community are a reality. The Fairness Campaign applauds President Obama for his leadership and advocacy of this vital hate crimes measure, which we expect is just the first step towards full and equal civil rights for all Americans." – CHRIS HARTMAN, director of the Fairness Campaign
"It’s good that the U.S. government has finally taken action to deter hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But by continuing to permit or even require discrimination against LGBT people in our relationships, in public service and in the workplace, the government fuels the very bigotry that results in violent attacks.” – TANNER EFINGER, Equality Across America