RESOLUTION OF THE PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION SUPPORTING AN AMENDMENT TO PENNSYLVANIA’S “HATE CRIMES” LAW (THE ETHNIC INTIMIDATTION AND INSTITUTIONAL VANDALISM ACT)

WHEREAS, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (“LGBT”) persons historically have been and continue to be the victims of violence resulting from bias aimed at their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression;

WHEREAS, thirty-two states have already enacted hate crimes laws that specifically include protections for sexual orientation and eleven states include protections for gender identity;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has a long-standing history of support for equal treatment under the law for all citizens of the Commonwealth; and, specifically, of support for equal rights for LGBT persons;

WHEREAS, by Resolutions dated September 30, 1999, March 21, 2002, and March 26, 2009, the Board of Governors resolved that the Philadelphia Bar Association supports and encourages adoption of local, state and federal legislation to include protections from discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity or expression;”

WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania Ethnic Intimidation and Institutional Vandalism Act was amended in 2002 to add protections for “ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity” to those already in place for “race, color, religion [and], national origin” but those amendments were overturned in 2007 on procedural grounds;

WHEREAS, in October 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law an amendment to the federal hate crimes law entitled the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expands the 1969 United States federal hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived “gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability;”

WHEREAS, the protections created by expansion of the federal hate crimes law are intended to back up state hate crimes statutes (which type of statute does not now exist in Pennsylvania for members of the LGBT community) and to supplement the work or local law enforcement;

WHEREAS, House Bill 745, Printer’s No. 831, introduced by Rep. Josh Shapiro (D Montgomery) on March 5, 2009, would amend the Pennsylvania Ethnic Intimidation and Institutional Vandalism Act to add protections for “ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity” whether “actual or perceived;”

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association supports and encourages enactment of an amendment to the Pennsylvania Ethnic Intimidation and Institutional Vandalism Act to add protections for “ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity,” whether “actual or perceived;” either as now proposed in House Bill 745, Printer’s No. 831, or otherwise;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes and directs the Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association to take such steps as may be necessary or appropriate to effectuate this Resolution, including communication of its position to members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the general public.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: March 2, 2010