Hate Crimes Legislation Update

As a follow-up to my previous post, I see (via The Associated Press)  that H.R. 1913 passed through the House decisively today with a vote of 249-175.  For those of you don't know what H.R. 1913 is; it is an extension to our existing hate crimes laws that allows federal funds to be provided to local agencies to prosecute crimes of prejudice.  The Religious Right has their pants in a bunch because it includes 'gender identity' and 'sexual orientation' to the list of classes protected by hate crime laws.  Probably the most telling synopsis of the conservative opposition to this bill came from bill supporter Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.,:
"I wonder if our friends on the other side of the aisle would be singing the same offensive tune if we were talking about hate crimes based on race or religion," she said, referring to Republican opponents. "It seems to me it is the category of individuals that they are offended by, rather than the fact that we have hate crimes laws at all."
How very true Rep. Wasserman.  I have come to think that hate crime laws can't really affect the rates of crime for things that are already illegal anyway.  I feel the greatest benefit of this bill is the the religious right must talk openly and loudly about their position on homosexuality and why they didn't have a problem with the same laws that didn't include homosexuals.  They have to lay it on the table for all the world to see (not that it has been a secret), that they feel there there are some groups that it is OK to persecute.  So; if it makes the Religious Right spastic and desperate (i.e. claiming it offers protection to pedophiles!!!....WTF?!?), then at least THAT is some good that comes out of it.

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