The Quixotic Pastor

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I am doing a happy, happy dance because the U.S. House of Representatives last week voted to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, H.R. 1592, in a vote of 237 to 180! [Thanks to the late Charles Schultz and Snoopy for helping me express my joy.]

This adds sexual orientation, gender identity and disability to the already existing, 40-year old federal hate crimes law that already protects persons according to race, religion, color, and national origin. This means that, when local law enforcement officials are confronted with a possible hate crime against lesbian, gay, bi- or trans- people, they have additional resources available on the federal level to assist with investigation and prosecution.
Hate crimes are criminal acts committed against individuals or groups of individuals that are intended to intimidate and threaten entire communities or classes of people. When the KKK erected burning crosses in the yards of African Americans, it was an attempt to keep "those people" in "their place." When neo-nazi organizations paint swastikas on synagogues, it is a way of one group of people threatening another group of people, "we don't like you, and we don't like you being here, and we'd like to treat you like Hitler did ..."
According to the FBI, hate crimes committed against LGBT persons rank 3rd behind race and religion. There are 25 hate crimes committed every day and one out of six of those is violence directed towards a LGBT person or someone perceived to be LGBT.

I don't know yet how my particular house rep voted [probably won't know until tomorrow or Saturday, whenever the vote tally shows up in the congressional record] or how the rest of the Michigan reps voted. But I am planning to find out.
Of course, this issue still has to come before the Senate --and then the rumor is that W will veto it. We'll see.


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