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Major Setback Given
Hate Crime Law by GOP Leadership

Activists Blast a Moral Blindness Among Party's Top Dogs

Action Proves Republican Leaders Eager to Kill Legislation

Compiled By GayToday

perry.jpg - 5.71 K The Rev. Troy Perry Washington, D.C.-- The GOP leadership stripped hate crime legislation from the Department of Defense authorization conference report yesterday. Lesbian and gay advocacy groups as well as others quickly condemned the Republican leaders, calling the move unconscionable.

While hate crime legislation still could pass in the present Congress, the GOP leadership has shown, they say, that they are determined to kill Hate Crime legislation even if it means their Republican colleagues will be hurt on Election Day.

"The morally reprehensible actions by the GOP leadership sends the wrong message to the country and will have ramifications for fair-minded Republicans who supported bipartisan hate crime legislation," said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg.

"The recent murder in Roanoke illustrates once again the need for our leaders to seriously tackle the problem of hate violence. But we have a GOP leadership that has instead turned their backs on hate crime victims and their families and acted against the wishes of the House, the Senate and an overwhelming majority of the American people. This is not only bad policy, it is bad politics, and their irresponsible actions may cost the party in November."

Reverend Troy D. Perry, Founder and Moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC), an inclusive worldwide fellowship of Christian congregations with a special outreach to the world's gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered communities, said:

"I cannot express how disappointed I am in this decision by the House. It is hard to believe that even with the hate crimes that have been committed in the last 3 months, there are members of Congress who still don't understand that we need this protection."

A recent poll conducted by the firm Garin Hart Yang asked voters whether they would be more or less likely to support a candidate who did not support legislation to strengthen the prosecution of violent hate crimes motivated by prejudice against the race, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation of the victim. A full 66 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for such a candidate, including 54 percent of Republican respondents. The poll was conducted over a three-day period in late August and has a margin of error of 2.8 percent points. The Reverend Perry continued:

"I believe that in this very important election, and in all future elections, we should remember those individual members of Congress who voted against this legislation. I encourage all of you to look at the voting record of every member of Congress on this issue and remember it in upcoming elections."

"The conservative leadership that refused to allow this legislation to become law has sent a message of callous indifference to our country," said National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Elizabeth Toledo.

"In less than five weeks we will go to the polls to elect a new House and a new Senate. We in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community will have our own message to send come Election Day."

Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:

Hate Crime Bill Clears Major Hurdle in U.S. Congress

Republican Leadership Kills Hate Crimes Prevention Act

GayToday's Hate Crimes Series

Related Sites:
Human Rights Campaign

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In June, the Senate voted 57 to 42--including 13 Republicans--to pass the language of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. On Sept. 13, by a vote of 232-192--including 41 Republicans--the House passed a motion to instruct conferees to keep the hate crimes measure in the Department of Defense bill.

Despite bipartisan passage in the House and Senate, the GOP leadership stripped out hate crime legislation while the bill was in conference. It appears now that the only way hate crime legislation can become law is if it is made part of the final budget negotiations between the House, Senate and the White House.

On September 22, Ronald Edward Gay walked into the Backstreet Cafe, a Roanoke, Virginia. gay bar, and opened fire on patrons killing one person and wounding six others.

This attack highlights the continued problem of antigay hate crimes in America, which have grown increasingly violent in recent years. According to the Washington Post, Gay told police that he shot seven people in a gay bar because of anger at jokes people made about his last name. Gay has been charged with first-degree murder.

Last month, the Human Rights Campaign launched a $75,000 HRC radio, television and print ad campaign that ran for 4 days and held several members of Congress and the GOP presidential candidate, Governor Bush, accountable for their opposition to hate crime legislation.

Those targeted in the ads were the following House and Senate members:

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, Republican-Illinois
Senator John Ashcroft, Republican-Missouri.
Rep. James Rogan, Republican-California
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Republican-Mississippi.
Senator Rick Santorum, Republican-Pennsylvania.
Senator Rod Grams, Republican-Minnesota.
Sen. Spencer Abraham, Republican-Michigan
Sen. John Warner, Republican-Virginia.
Sen. Slade Gorton, Republican-Washington.

A new poll released last month by the Garin-Hart-Yang-Research Group shows that hate crime legislation is widely supported by the public.

According to the poll, nearly 66 percent of voters say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who voted against legislation to "strengthen the prosecution of violent hate crimes motivated by prejudice against race, religion, gender or sexual orientation of the victim." 63 percent of Independent voters say they are "less likely to vote for a candidate opposed to hate crime legislation.

A coalition of organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, and the American Association of University Women have been leading efforts to pass hate crime legislation.

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