[Vision2020] House Votes to Expand Hate Crime Protections

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Fri May 4 06:01:37 PDT 2007

One can only imagine how swiftly Bill Sali would have changed his vote had
this bill included clueless legislators.
>From today's (May 4, 2007) Spokesman Review -


House votes to expand hate crime protections 

>From Wire Reports 
May 4, 2007

WASHINGTON - Brushing aside a veto threat from President Bush, the House on
Thursday approved legislation that would extend federal hate-crime
protection to gays and increase penalties against attackers.

The legislation was first given life in 1998, after James Byrd Jr., an
African American, was dragged to death outside of Jasper, Texas, and Matthew
Shepard, a gay man, was beaten and left to die, tied to a fence in Wyoming.
Although the proposal has passed the House or Senate several times since
2000, it has never cleared the entire Congress.
But with Democrats in charge, advocates see the best chance yet of
strengthening a federal hate-crime law that has existed since 1968 and
focuses on race, color, religion and national origin. The bill passed with
relative ease, 237-180, with 25 Republicans joining 212 Democrats. Fourteen
Democrats opposed the bill.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who co-authored the bill's first version with
Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., in 2000, pledged quick Senate action.

But the president may stand in the way. On Wednesday, the House's staunchest
conservatives wrote to Bush, saying the legislation federalizes crime
enforcement and "segregates people into different groups - based on sex,
gender identity, minority status, and other often nebulous terms - then
seeks to either reward or punish these different groups using different

During testimony Thursday, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said: "If someone
commits a crime, they should be punished for that crime. Period. 

"Today, the Democratic majority has chosen to end equality under the law."

Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, warned that the true
intent of the bill was "to muzzle people of faith who dare to express their
moral and biblical concerns about homosexuality." 

"It does not impinge on public speech or writing in any way," countered
Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., pointing out that the
bill reaffirms First Amendment and free speech rights.

The White House responded Thursday with a formal statement recommending that
the president veto the bill.

The FBI received reports of 7,163 hate crimes in 2005, the most recent data
available. Racial motivation accounted for about 55 percent; religious for
17 percent; sexual orientation, 14 percent; and ethnicity/national origin,
about 13 percent. Less than 1 percent were blamed on bias against an
individual's disability.

Under the existing hate crime law, federal authorities can investigate and
prosecute violence motivated by a victim's race, color, religion or national
origin. The new legislation expands the definition to cover offenses
committed against individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender,
disability or gender identity (that is, transgender individuals).

Violations are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and, in the case of
the death of the victim, life in prison.


How they voted:

Idaho's representatives, all Republican, voted no.

All Washington Democrats voted yes; Republicans Doc Hastings voted no, Dave
Reichert voted yes and Cathy McMorris Rodgers was absent.


Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in
Albany, Georgia and St. Augustine, Florida, and many other campaigns of the
Civil Rights Movement.  Many of these courageous men and women were fighting
for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and
I salute their contributions."

- Coretta Scott King (March 30, 1998)

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