Meehan, Brady Introduce Federal LGBT Hate Crimes Bill

Press Release

Date: Nov. 14, 2014
Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Patrick Meehan (R/PA-7) today joined Rep. Bob Brady (D/PA-1) in introducing legislation expanding the authority of the federal government to prosecute hate crimes committed due to a victim's sexual orientation.

"There can be no excuse for violence motivated by a person's sexual orientation," Meehan, a former prosecutor, said. "The tragic attack on a couple in Philadelphia in September shows us how far we still have to go to stop these hate crimes."

Federal law already classifies attacks based on sexual orientation as hate crimes, but unless a prosecutor can prove the crime had a nexus to "interstate commerce", they can't be prosecuted in federal court. Prosecutions based on race or religion do not require this step.

"This bill simply treats hate crime prosecutions involving gay and lesbian victims no different than attacks based race or religion," Meehan said.

"A patchwork of state laws across the country leaves the prosecution of hate crimes committed against gay and lesbian Americans uneven," Meehan said. "This legislation removes the barriers to federal prosecution and will ensure that the rights of victims targeted because of their sexual orientation are protected."

Under current Pennsylvania law, crimes committed due to a victim's sexual orientation are not classified as hate crimes.