GOP Senate Passes Hate Crimes Measure in Bi-Partisan Vote
(WASHINGTON, DC) – The U.S. Senate approved a measure on hate crimes by a 57-42 bi-partisan margin, sending an important symbolic message to the country on hate violence. The vote was also a symbol of the success of bi-partisan cooperation on issues of importance to the gay community.
"This success demonstrates what we can accomplish in a Republican Senate when we all work together," said Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans.
The amendment to the Defense authorization bill, sponsored by Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), extends current federal hate crime protection – which covers race, religion, color and national origin – to gender, sexual orientation and disability. Federal jurisdiction is limited in scope, since most crimes are prosecuted by states.
"We applaud the support of Republican senators for this amendment, especially Senator Smith, who led the successful effort with Senator Kennedy, and Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine who were co-sponsors," Tafel said.
"While some have questioned hate crimes laws and their effect," Tafel said, "it should be noted that the Senate debate was not about hate crimes legislation as much as about whether sexual orientation deserved to be included."
"Much of the credit for its passage goes to Winnie Stachelberg and the political department of HRC, whose hard work must be congratulated," Tafel said. "We worked closely with HRC and other organizations over several years on this effort, and the success is another testament to bi-partisan cooperation."