Thursday, April 23, 2009

HR 1913: Hate Crimes Legislation Clears House Committee

Following up on our Monday blog, we are pleased to inform you that the House Judiciary Committee passed HR 1913, 15-12.

Democrats are well aware of public support for this legislation as they advance it toward President Obama's desk.  A gallup poll in May 2007 revealed that 68% of Americans support expanding current hate crimes laws to include "gender," "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." George Bush vetoed a similar bill in 2007.

Leaders from within the gay community have also been pushing members of Congress to extend health insurance benefits to same sex couples who are federal employees.  Another hot button issue has been a repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, which was introduced once again last month. But don't look for these particular debates to make much progress anytime soon.  Barney Frank, just yesterday, advised a wait strategy before taking up Don't Ask, Don't tell.   
“I believe we should and will do ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ next year. We haven’t done the preliminary work, the preparatory work. It would be a mistake to bring it up without a lot of lobbying and a lot of conversation.”

“People think because they know the rules, that somehow you gain some advantage from it. ... But we all know the rules; the question is when to do it. The key issues are not procedural, it’s political."
My take:  With precision, Democrats are targeting these issues as they develop into more feasible achievements. While some gay and lesbian advocate groups may want Congress to vote tomorrow on gay marriage, they would be asking for too much, too soon. Imagine if one of these issues were defeated in a Democratic controlled congress.  Social conservatives would claim a moral victory, yet again, and the argument would be dead, yet again.

For now, it appears that HR 1913 is headed for the Senate where Republicans will certainly do all they can to muster a filibuster. But defeating hate crimes legislation this time won't be as easy as in 2007.  Both Maine Republicans, Snowe and  Collins, voted for the 2007 bill. Besides fewer votes to work with, there's a Democrat in the White House waiting to sign the bill into law - signaling to anxious gay and lesbian advocates that the new administration is still on their side.


Anonymous said...

If a gay person says something hateful towards a heterosexual (e.g. Carrie Prejean) and something violent happens to her, that gay person can be sued for his blogging. I am very concerned that the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act coming out of Congress will result in lawsuits against individuals exercising their First Ammendment rights of free speech. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) implies that people could be prosecuted for having a particular belief. "We also need to protect those potential victims who may be the recipients of hateful WORDS or hateful acts, or even violent acts," That means that if we just mention that we strongly disagree with Muslims, Mexican immigrants, as well as heterosexuals and they become victims of a crime, we can be accused of inciting violence and be sued.

Bill Newsome said...

Well, if what you were saying were true, I'd have a hard time supporting the bill myself.

It's just not true that this bill restricts free speech. In fact, if you read the text of the bill (click the HR 1913 link in the blog), you'll find these words in Section 10:

"Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution."

Lawmakers went out of their way to ensure that free speech is protected, as they should have. I encourage you to read the text of the bill -- then ask yourself, "Does this bill restrict free speech?"

HR 1913 is a hate CRIMES bill, not a hate SPEECH bill.

carl said...

This particular Legislation is merely an amendment to the Washington D.C Municipal Code. Legislation for D.C is always styled as being held at the City of Washington. Always remember that Congress legislates for the City of D.C.
Pasted below is the genesis for title 18 248, H.R 1913 is an addition to Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994'.

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 13 > § 248


1994—Pub. L. 103–322, § 330023(a)(2), amended section catchline generally. Prior to amendment, catchline read as follows: “§ 248 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances.”

One Hundred Third Congress
of the
United States of America
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday,
the twenty-fifth day of January, one thousand nine hundred and ninety-four
An Act
To amend title 18, United States Code, to assure freedom of access to reproductive
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
This Act may be cited as the `Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994'.

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