By Peter J. Smith
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 16, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The United States Senate is poised to approve hate crimes legislation within the next couple days by way of an amendment attached to an unrelated bill on tourism.
According to the Washington Blade, a D.C.-based homosexual news journal, the Senate leadership plans to attach the hate crimes bill, S. 909, also known as the Matthew Shephard Act, to The Travel Promotion Act of 2009 (S 1023). The Blade quoted its source as saying “we're thinking that the vote will happen probably [Tuesday] or Wednesday.”
LifeSiteNews reported last week that Senate officials were looking to smuggle controversial hate crimes legislation into federal law by passing it as an amendment to another major piece of legislation instead of a stand-alone piece of legislation. The US House of Representatives had passed its version, H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, as a stand-alone bill by a 249-175 margin in April.
According to the Senate calendar, the Senate will consider in the morning the motion to proceed to S.1023, the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, with up to one hour for debate prior to a vote to invoke cloture, which would cut off debate and allow an up or down vote on the bill. Without a filibuster, a vote is expected as early as 11:45 AM.
Last week’s shooting at the US Holocaust Museum by white-supremacist and neo-Nazi octogenarian, James von Brunn, added political fuel to the drive to pass hate crimes legislation. Although labeled a “right wing extremist,” Brunn, however, did not fit the mold, praising socialism, and expressing a deep hatred for Christianity as well as Judaism in his online rants, calling both “hoaxes” and blaming them for “destroying the Aryan gene pool.”
In the wake of the shooting, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) promised Monday that he would bring forward the hate-crimes bill before the August recess. President Obama has also urged passage of the bill.
The legislation includes “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” with race, religion, class, gender, and disability to categories that are protected as “hate crimes.” Under this legislation, crimes against individuals who belong to the protected classes receive stiffer penalties than crimes against other groups not mentioned by the bill, a fact that critics charge makes “second class citizens” out of those not covered by the law.
The bill has also been labeled the “pedophile protection act,” in large part due to the refusal of House members to approve an amendment specifying that the bill would not penalize the free speech of those objecting to pedophilia. The term “sexual orientation” is not defined in the bill, an omission that some legislators charge could lead to a too broad interpretation – since the term is used by psychologists to encompass a variety of sexual deviancies (including pedophilia), and not just homosexuality.
To contact the US Senate: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=state&Sort=ASC
The Senate switchboard is (202) 224-3121 or (202) 225-3121.
See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
Same-Sex “Marriage,” “Hate Crimes,” and the New Totalitarianism by Michael D. O’Brien