15 May 2009

They Voted For You: Hate Crimes

U.S. Reps. Alan Mollohan, D-1st, and Nick Rahall, D-3rd, helped the House pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, voted against the measure, as did all but 18 of the House GOP members who took part in the 249-175 roll call.

The Associated Press reports that "gay victims of violence would gain new federal protections" under the "revived and expanded" bill.

"Hate crimes — as defined by the bill — are those motivated by prejudice and based someone's race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability," the article said. "Current law only permits federal prosecutions against crimes based on race, religion, color or national origin — and only when the victims are engaged in federally protected activity such as voting."

AP also reports that "the bill aroused the ire of conservative religious groups and pastors. Several Republicans argued those leaders could face criminal charges for speaking out against homosexuality or, at the very least, would be reluctant to state their views."

FactCheck.org on Thursday addressed some of the allegations by the legislation's foes.

"In reality, there's nothing in the bill that says pastors must zip their lips rather than denounce homosexuality, nor does it cover pedophiles, voyeurs, exhibitionists and dozens of other behaviors," its analysis concludes. "The First Amendment is still operative, and pedophiles would get no breaks under this bill."

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