NYT Spanks Pelosi for Caving on Hate Crimes Bill

December 10, 2007 at 11:03 am 1 comment

The New York Times calls out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the Democrats caving to Republican opposition to the hate crimes bill and rightly so.

December 10, 2007


Caving In on Hate Crimes

Congressional leaders, who have disappointed frequently this year, have done it again. This time, the House leadership has failed to find a way to get a bipartisan law against hate crimes passed and signed into law. Racial, religious, sexual and other minorities have waited long enough. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has to do more than just express her support for the bill; she must find a way to make it the law.

The Matthew Shepard Act would expand the definition of hate crimes and make important improvements in the federal response. To categories already covered by federal law, which include race and religion, it would add crimes committed because of the victim’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender or disability. It would also broaden the federal government’s authority to investigate these hateful acts.

The bill has been a top priority of civil rights groups since Mr. Shepard, who was gay, was beaten to death in Laramie, Wyo., in 1998. It also has strong support from law enforcement, including the National Sheriffs’ Association and the National District Attorneys Association. The House passed it 237-180, with significant Republican support, and the Senate passed a similar bill by voice vote, after a 60-39 cloture vote.

President Bush has suggested he would veto the bill. It’s an unfortunate threat, but one he is certainly capable of carrying out. House and Senate leaders planned to get around that threat by attaching it to a Department of Defense Authorization bill, which Mr. Bush would have had trouble vetoing. But House leaders decided last week that since some liberals did not want to vote for the defense bill and some conservatives did not want to vote for the hate crimes bill, they could not piece together a majority to get it through.

Ms. Pelosi says she is still committed to getting the Matthew Shepard Act passed, perhaps early next year. That’s nice, but it is time for her to explain how she intends to do it — and then to make it happen.

Entry filed under: Advocacy, Congress, Conservatives, Democrats, Hate Crimes, LGBT, Opinion, Politics, Republicans. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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