Friday, July 20, 2007

Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 stalls in the U.S. Senate.

The Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 has stalled in the U.S. Senate after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) withdrew an Iraq defense measure to which the hate crimes bill was attached.

One in six hate crimes is motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation. And, many others are motivated by the victim’s gender identity, gender, or disability.

Extending hate crimes law to include members of the LGBT community was endorsed by more than 210 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organizations, including: the National Sheriffs' Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

Democrats were seven votes short of passing the defense bill, which called for the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq by spring 2008.
The hate crimes statute was one of several dozen amendments attached for easier passage; a statement from the White House after the House passed an identical hate crimes measure, the "Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007" seemed to indicate that the proposed law would be vetoed were it to be a freestanding bill.

A spokesperson for Reid said it could be a “long time” before the Nevada senator brings the defense bill back to the floor for a vote, which could lead to an indefinite hold on the hate crimes bill if other action isn't taken.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation asks people to continue calls and emails to U.S. Senators in support of the Act.


Anonymous said...

fuck the federal government and the president for wanting to veto the bill!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

That would be like Bish to veto GOOD legislation.

Anonymous said...

The bill is not dead. It was withdrawn, not killed or voted down. Sen. Reid plans to re-introduce the entire bill, including the hate crimes amendment, after the August recess which ends Sept. 3.

Anonymous said...

I guess the person above cannot read, Senator Reid's Office said it could be a “long time” before the Nevada senator brings the defense bill back to the floor for a vote, which could lead to an indefinite hold on the hate crimes bill.

Anonymous said...

The House bill received the mildest form of presidential veto threat they send, that "senior advisers would counsel the President to veto it". Also, in the Senate it was purposely attached to the Defense Dept. Authorization bill because he won't veto that bill. Senate leaders remain confident they have the votes for cloture and final passage of the amendment as has happened in the Senate before, just not in the same session the House voted yes for it. All feel it will survive the conference committee that would reconcile the House and Senate versions.

HRC's political, legislative, and field departments have been told by Senate leaders to expect a vote on the bill after the August recess and to keep the pressure on Senators to vote yes. Reid can't and won't say so publicly lest the far right's forces be given ammo. to motivate their base.

Here is what HRC's legislative director says is up to date info. on the bill, as posted on HRC's blog today, Fri., 7/20:

"After a protracted debate about the Iraq war, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid temporarily suspended consideration of the Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization bill. Earlier, Senators Kennedy and Smith had filed hate crimes as a potential amendment to the DoD bill. As a result, consideration of both the bill and hate crimes will be delayed for the moment. Reid pulled the bill after the Levin-Reed amendment failed to garner the necessary 60 votes - a procedural hurdle needed to end a filibuster against the amendment. Levin-Reed would have called for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by next spring. This could mean that a vote on hate crimes may not occur before Congress adjourns for its August recess.

Our congressional allies - including Senate leadership - remain committed to getting a vote on hate crimes this year. Senators Kennedy and Smith continue to look for ways to advance this crucial legislation."

Brad said...

What the hell is an HRC?

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Anonymous said...

In explaining the need for this bill, co-sponsor Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., declared, "What happened to Matthew should happen to no one."

You know what? He's right. Which is why murder is against the law, even in Wyoming, and why Shepard's attackers are now serving sentences (life in prison) that could not be any longer if this law had been in effect then. Gay Life

writes: "Why We Need LEHCPA/ Matthew Shepard Act: Hate crimes are often more severe than other crimes. Being attacked, beaten, brutalized, murdered or harmed in any way based on who and what you are should never be tolerated."

Gay Life is also completely 100% correct, but I'd broaden the intolerance to say "Being attacked, beaten, brutalized, murdered or harmed in any way . . . should never be tolerated -- period."

Is it really fair that if you're a particular kind of person, say, gay or transgendered, we should skew the law such the penalties for violence against you should be greater than the penalties for the same level of a violent act committed against a person who is not gay or transgendered. In other words, are gay and transgender individuals deserving of greater deterrence (higher penalties) then individuals who are not gay or transgendered?

This is the defining defect of hate crimes bills: It is intended to provide extra penalties for criminals who think incorrect thoughts.

It's already illegal, after all, to deliberately injure someone with a gun or an explosive. But this measure establishes special punishment for anyone who carries out such an attack because the victim has certain traits. It's like slapping extra jail time on those who assault people who demonstrate against the Iraq war but not people who demonstrate in favor.

Finally, it's an empty gesture -- back in 2000, the Supreme Court struck down a major part of another high-minded statute, the Violence Against Women Act, which allowed anyone attacked because of her gender to sue the attacker in federal court. The reason the court gave for overturning the law was simple: The Constitution doesn't give Congress the power to legislate against crimes of a purely local nature. The Supreme Court will strike down the LEHCPA/ Matthew Shepard Act, if it becomes law, on the same grounds -- it's not supported by the Constitution, and there's no way to get around that.

You can read a more detailed critique of the act here:

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