Update on Hate Crimes Bill
With the drama surrounding ENDA sucking up much of the LGBT political oxygen, the federal hate crimes bill has receded to the background. Progress on the bill continues to be made with leaders in the Senate and House are working to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions of the Defense Authorization bill. The Senate version contains the hate crimes language while the House version does not. The House passed the hate crimes bill as a stand alone measure.
Here is an update on the negotiations from National Journal:
House and Senate lawmakers seeking to resolve differences between competing versions of the FY08 defense authorization bill hope to wrap up their conference talks in the next several days and pass the bill before the Thanksgiving recess, several congressional aides said today. The so-called Big Four — the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees — met privately Monday afternoon to negotiate several lingering disputes over defense policy provisions. They plan to meet again Wednesday for more discussions on the bill, which sets Pentagon policy and prescribes funding levels for the military.
In addition, committee leaders are still weighing whether to include in the final bill unrelated hate crimes language that passed on the Senate’s version of the authorization measure. The Senate’s hate crimes amendment would almost certainly draw a veto from the White House, which threatened to veto similar language that passed in the House as a stand-alone bill in May. The Senate language would expand the hate crimes definition to include sexual orientation. It also would allow the attorney general to provide assistance in hate-crimes cases at the request of local and state law enforcement.
— by Megan Scully
With luck and continued pressure on members of Congress to include the hate crimes language in the version of the Defense Authorization bill that is sent to the president, we could see the first major piece of civil rights legislation ever to pass Congress. And this bill is inclusive of gender identity.
President Bush has threatened to veto the bill if it includes the hate crimes language, my gut feeling is that he will not. Bush may be incredibly stupid and anti-gay, but he wants funding for the military more than he wants to oppose the gays.