The Anti-Defamation League is looking to strengthen hate-crimes laws in New Jersey and across the country in an initiative it is calling “50 States Against Hate.”
Prompted by the June murder of nine African-Americans at a historic church in Charleston, SC, the ADL is partnering with civil rights groups and labor unions to press for stronger laws, better training for law enforcement personnel, improved data collection, and increased reporting.
In New Jersey, the organization will focus on underreporting, on-line bullying, and discrimination against transgender people.
“We were very disappointed when Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation in August that would have allowed transgender individuals to change their sex designation on their birth certificates,” said Joshua Cohen, ADL’s NJ director. “We will continue to advocate for those changes, and we continue to provide anti-LGBT bias resources to our schools.”
Lauter said the ADL is sometimes caught in a struggle between religious freedom and civil rights, especially when women’s and gay rights issues conflict with conservative Christianity.
“When I look at LGBT challenges and challenges to women’s reproductive rights, they come from the conservative Right that wants to impose its religious values on the rest of us,” said Deborah Lauter, the ADL’s national civil rights director. “Many of them believe this is a Christian nation, but while most people are Christians, our founding fathers never conceived of it as a Christian nation.