executive director Kendall Clawson
was invited today to the White House to watch President Obama sign a significant new piece of hate crimes legislation
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act takes its name from Shepard —a college student in Wyoming who was killed
for being gay; and Byrd, an African-American man who was chained and dragged mercilessly to his death
from a pickup truck in Texas.
"About 9:05am I got an email that said you're invited to this,” says Clawson, who since 2007 has been at the Q Center, a non-profit that supports Portland's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning communities.
As an African-American woman and lesbian, Clawson says the invitation is “very significant personally and professionally.”
The bill that Obama will sign Wednesday, with Clawson and others as witnesses, expands the grounds for federal hate crime prosecution to include gender, gender identity and sexual orientation.