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Reform Jewish Movement Disappointed with Hate Crimes Vote

Pelavin: After five years of intensive and thorough negotiations, a bipartisan majority in the Senate, supported by a remarkable coalition of over 175 religious, civic, law enforcement, and civil rights groups has crafted a well-intentioned, comprehensive and effective bill to combat the hatred that has been, and will continue to be, unchecked by federal law. It is discouraging that the opponents of this bill have succeeded in halting its progress.

Contact: Alexis Rice or Dan Kaufman 202-387-2800

Washington, June 12, 2002 - The Reform Jewish Movement expressed disappointment and frustration with the Senate's cloture vote on the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (S. 625). (A cloture motion is designed to limit debate and allow a vote on a bill to prevent opponents from offering unrelated amendments.) By a vote of 54 to 43, the Senate failed to invoke cloture, forcing the Senate leadership to pull the bill from the floor. The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (LLEEA), introduced by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR), would expand federal hate crimes law to add sexual orientation, gender, and disability to race, color, religion and national origin as protected classes.

Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

    We are extremely disappointed and frustrated with the Senate's failure to move forward with passage of this critical piece of hate crimes legislation. After five years of intensive and thorough negotiations, a bipartisan majority in the Senate, supported by a remarkable coalition of over 175 religious, civic, law enforcement, and civil rights groups has crafted a well-intentioned, comprehensive and effective bill to combat the hatred that has been, and will continue to be unchecked by federal law. It is discouraging that the opponents of this bill have succeeded in halting its progress.

    Jewish tradition teaches us that we are all created in the image of God (b'tselem Elohim). Each of us is uniquely capable of working to repair the world, and thus inherently valuable. It is in this spirit that as a nation, we celebrate our diversity and insist on equality for all. Especially now, in these troubled times, equality, along with our other constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, must reign supreme if we are to remain united and strong.

    We remain committed and optimistic that the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act will be passed into law. We call on the sponsors of this bill to recognize that a majority of the Senate continues to support hate crimes legislation. Perseverance will allow us to overcome this temporary setback. We will not rest until this critical legislation is law.

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    The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) , whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis .




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