This week I authored and introduced H.R. 2677, the Military Personnel Protection Act of 2009. Joining me as original cosponsors are Mr. Bilbray of California , Mr. Burton of Indiana, Ms. Fallin of Oklahoma, Mrs. Blackburn of Tennessee, and Mr. Gingrey of Georgia. This legislation will extend current federal hate crimes protections to active, guard, reserve and retired members of the Armed Forces. H.R. 2677 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

I drafted this legislation in response to the events of June 1, 2009, when two U.S. servicemen were gunned down at an Army recruiting station in Little Rock, AK. Pvt. William Long lost his life in the attack and Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula was wounded and rushed to a nearby hospital. Based on the attacker’s own statements, Pvt. Long and Ezeagwula were targeted because of their affiliation with the U.S. Army. Under recently passed hate crimes legislation, H.R. 1913, these heroes would receive no additional federal protections.

I think we can all agree that if there is any class of citizens who deserve special protection from political or religiously motivated crimes, it is our men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line each day to protect this country. This legislation will right this egregious wrong, and ensure those who answered our nation’s call to service are extended the same protections afforded to other “protected” classes of citizens.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, with two large military installations and one of the highest populations of veterans in my district, I believe we owe it to the men and women, who sacrifice for our freedom, to ensure they are not targeted for wearing the uniform of our nation’s military and protecting American democracy.