The US House Thursday passed a bill designed to expand the nation's hate-crimes laws to include those crimes that are based on gender or sexual orientation. 25 Republicans joined with 212 Democrats (including each of Michigan's six Democratic Representatives) in votng for the bill, which President Bush is threatening to veto.
CNN has more on the bill:
According to the article, critics of the hate-crimes legislation say it will target pastors who preach against homosexuality. Two points in that regard. First, the bill targets those who commit crimes based on gender and sexual orientation, NOT those who believe homosexuality is wrong.
Under current law, hate crimes are subject to federal prosecution only if the acts of violence are motivated by race, religion, color or national origin. Federal prosecutors get involved only if the victim is engaged in a federally protected activity, such as voting or participating in interstate commerce.
The White House says there is no need for the expanded bill because state and local laws already cover the crimes it addresses, and there is no need for federal enforcement.
In addition to allowing greater leeway for federal law enforcement authorities to investigate hate crimes, the House bill -- which was passed on a 237-180 vote --provides $10 million over the next two years to aid local prosecutions.
Second, I'm a straight man, and I personally believe marriage is between one man and one woman. But if one of my friends from the GLBT falls victim to a hate crime, I would expect nothing less than for the perpetrator to receive swift justice.
But Congressman Ehlers and 179 of his colleagues - including every Republican member of Michigan's congressional delegation - do not see it that way. They believe that the current law, which criminalizes hate crimes perpetrated based on religion, race, national origin, or color, is sufficient enough.
But a hate crime is a hate crime, regardless of the basis on which it is perpetrated. Until Mr. Ehlers realizes this, he will probably keep receiving zeros on the Human Rights Campaign's Congressional Scorecard.