Rev. Meg Riley, Unitarian Universalist Association Director of Advocacy and Witness, praised President Barack Obama for signing into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act as part of the Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization (H.R. 2647) to strengthen federal protection against hate crimes.
Riley said, “Today, our nation’s elected officials have powerfully advanced not just long-overdue legal protections, but our moral leadership. We applaud them for acting to prevent hate-based crimes and standing on the side of love with millions of Americans across the country.” The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has been working toward passage of inclusive hate crimes legislation since before Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd were murdered.
“This law respects the right of every American to embrace his or her identity and live as we were created,” said Rev. Riley. “As people of faith, we celebrate the signing of this Act because it embraces, defends, and shepherds some of the most oppressed and excluded members of our society and reflects our responsibility to protect all people, regardless of their identities.
"I rejoice at this step toward full recognition of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people as worthy of equal protection under the law when they are victims of hate crimes. And I know that Unitarian Universalists will continue to work toward the day when no one is targeted for violence simply for being who they are."