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Nation’s Largest Jewish Organization Disappointed by Exclusion of Hate Crimes Provision

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Bethany Gotkin or Sari Laufer, (202) 387-2800

Calls upon President and Congress to "find a way" to enact Hate Crimes Legislation this Congress

Pelavin: "The American people have spoken. President Clinton has spoken. Congress has spoken; both chambers voted with strong bipartisan support in favor of hate crimes legislation. Congress must not adjourn without passing federal hate crimes legislation"

WASHINGTON, October 6, 2000 - Expressing disappointment that a House-Senate Conference Committee on the Department of Defense Authorization Bill has chosen not to include enhanced federal hate crimes prevention language (the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act), in its report, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said today that "We are mindful of the demands of the Congressional calendar, but experience teaches us that where there is a political will, there is a procedural way." Pelavin said that "Both the House and the Senate have held recorded votes in which a clear majority demonstrated support for the hate crimes language struck by the Conferees" which would, he noted "indisputably advance the ideal that all Americans, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or ability can live with a greater sense of security."

Mr. Pelavin's complete statement follows:

Our disappointment over the Conference Committee's decision to strike the hate crimes language from the FY 2001 Department of Defense Authorization Act is palpable. Still, we remain optimistic about the passage of meaningful hate crimes legislation by this Congress, and remain committed to doing whatever we can make that happen.

The Conference Committee's rejection of the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act is more than a disappointment to all Americans who care about civil rights; it is also an affront to the victims of hate crimes and their families. This statute would make a real difference to Americans whose safety is continually threatened because of their identity. It would be an important step in healing the wounds hate crimes have inflicted in our communities. This legislation would indisputably advance the ideal that all Americans, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or ability can live with a greater sense of security.

President Clinton has said over and over again that passing hate crimes legislation is one of his top priorities. He has said that he wants federal hate crimes legislation to stand as part of his legacy. We believe him, and stand ready to work with him and the bipartisan majorities in both Houses who support this vital legislation.

We are mindful of the demands of the Congressional calendar, but experience teaches us that where there is a political will, there is a procedural way. President Clinton has spoken. Congress has spoken; both chambers voted with strong bipartisan support in favor of hate crime legislation. The American people have spoken. Congress must not adjourn without passing federal hate crimes legislation.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) whose membership includes over 1700 Reform rabbis.



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