House Passes Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill, Amid GOP Opposition

October 9, 2009

(ChattahBox)—The House passed an expansion to the hate crimes bill on Thursday, adding federal protection for violent hate crimes based on a person’s sexual orientation, which would include members of the LGBT community. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill, in a vote of 281 to 146, was largely passed along party lines with most House Republicans strongly opposing the broadening of the hate crimes definition to include gay Americans, referring to the bill, as advancing a radical social agenda.

The Republicans were particularly angry that the hate crimes bill was attached to a Defense Authorization bill, believing that offering federal protection to gays was disrespectful to our soldiers. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), a Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Intelligence Subcommittee, blasted the hate crimes bill, as an “…insult to men and women who risk their lives on the battlefield defending our freedoms.

House Minority Leader, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-OH), falsely described the hates crime bill, as outlawing a person’s “thoughts,” because a prosecutor would be required to prove the motivation of the attacker.

“The idea that we’re going to pass a law that’s going to add further charges to someone based on what they may have been thinking, I think is wrong,” Boehner said. Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) said, “that we refuse to be blackmailed into voting for a piece of social agenda.”

However, the hate crimes bill does not outlaw a person’s thoughts or mere expressions of bias, as Republicans assert. The bill specifically bars prosecution of an individual’s expression of “racial, religious, political or other beliefs.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) referred to the hate crimes bill, as a “social attack on what used to be the morals of America.” During a largely incoherent and hate-filled speech on the House floor Tuesday evening, Gohmert even went so far to say, that the inclusion of gays in the hate crimes bill, would lead to the legalization of necrophilia, pedophilia and bestiality.

Gohmert then spent time reading lengthy biblical passages against homosexuality.

The new bill also includes protection for crimes, not only based on sexual orientation, but also those committed because of gender, gender identity or disability. The current federal hate crimes law only includes protection against violent crimes motivated by the victim’s race, color, religion or national origin.

The bill states that, “The problem of crimes motivated by bias, is sufficiently serious, widespread and interstate in nature as to warrant federal assistance to states, local jurisdictions and Indian tribes.”

Senator Carl Levin, (D-MI), head of the Armed Services Committee, pointed to the increase in violent crimes based on sexual orientation, requiring the expansion of federal protection in the hate crimes bill to act as a deterrent to such crimes.

“The hate crimes act will hopefully deter people from being targeted for violent attacks because of the color of their skin or their religion, their disability, their gender or their sexual orientation, regardless of where the crime takes place,” said Levin.

The bill allocates $5 million a year to the Justice Department to provide training and assist local communities in investigating the new class of hate crimes.

The hate crimes bill is expected to easily pass in the Senate, despite Republican opposition, where it has strong support among the Democratic majority.



One Response to “House Passes Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill, Amid GOP Opposition”

  1. Old Man Dotes on October 9th, 2009 5:21 pm

    ‘Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) referred to the hate crimes bill, as a “social attack on what used to be the morals of America.”’

    Those would be the morals that involve a GOP governor using tax money to fund a trip to Argentina for a fling with his mistress, while his wife and staff think he’s hiking in the mountains, right?

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