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Hate Crimes Bill Approved by Congress, Extends Protection to Gay Americans

Posted by Audiegrl

(Artwork courtesy of Unfinished Lives)

(Artwork courtesy of Unfinished Lives)

Associated Press/Jim Abrams—Physical attacks on people based on their sexual orientation will join the list of federal hate crimes in a major expansion of the civil rights-era law Congress approved Thursday and sent to President Barack Obama.

A priority of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., that had been on the congressional agenda for a decade, the measure expands current law to include crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. The measure is named for Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming college student murdered 11 years ago.

To assure its passage after years of frustrated efforts, Democratic supporters attached the measure to a must-pass $680 billion defense policy bill the Senate approved 68-29. The House passed the defense bill earlier this month.

Many Republicans, normally staunch supporters of defense bills, voted against the bill because of the hate crimes provision. All the no votes were Republicans except for Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who supported the hate crimes provision but opposes what he says is the open-ended military commitment in Afghanistan.

The inclusion of the controversial language of the hate crimes legislation, which is unrelated to our national defense, is deeply troubling,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, with President Obama

Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, with President Obama

Hate crimes law enacted after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968 centered on crimes based on race, color, religion or national origin.

The expansion has long been sought by civil rights and gay rights groups. Conservatives have opposed it, arguing that it creates a special class of victims. They also have been concerned that it could silence clergymen or others opposed to homosexuality on religious or philosophical grounds.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights group, hailed the bill as “our nation’s first major piece of civil rights legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Too many in our community have been devastated by hate violence.”

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Filed under Democrats, Gay (LGBT) Rights, Hate Crimes, Law, Partisan Politics, Politics, Uncategorized, Women's Issues

Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert: Claims Hate Crimes Bill will lead to Nazism, legalization of necrophilia, pedophilia, and bestiality

U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert (TX-01)

U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert (TX-01)

Think Progress/Lee Fang—Led by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) last night, lawmakers convened for a special session of floor speeches urging a repeal of Don’t Act Don’t Tell. Rather than participate positively in the discussion, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) took to the floor to deliver a hate-filled response. Gohmert fired off a litany of attacks, calling the DADT repeal “perverse…social experimentation” and that soldiers are being “held hostage by a sociological attack.” His rant included a bizarre argument that the Matthew Shepard hate crimes bill would lead to a legalization of necrophilia, pedophilia, and bestiality. Later in the speech, after reading lengthy passages from the Bible against homosexuality, Gohmert said that taking away “moral teaching in America” would create a situation similar to that of Germany in the “1920’s and 1930’s” when a “little guy with a mustache” took over…

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If you would like to contact Rep. Louie Gohmert at his: Tyler, TX office phone: 903.561.6349, at his Washington, DC office phone: 202.225.3035 fax: 202.226.1230. If you’d like to send him an email, remember he will only accept emails from people in his district.

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Filed under Gay (LGBT) Rights, Hate Crimes, Military, Partisan Politics, Politics, Republicans, War