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Congress: Hate Legislation Disinterest Blamed on Religious Right

Republican Representatives Don't Give a Damn About Matthew Shepard

Some Say Gay Rights Angle Assured Hate Crime Law's Non-Passage

Compiled by Badpuppy's GayToday

top1013.gif - 17.76 KA hate crimes bill lauded by Attorney General Janet Reno and written by Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy (Dem.) has failed to spark interest in the Republican-dominated Congress of the United States.

Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights said recently that "It's been an absolutely horrendous year."

Tougher penalties for crimes of prejudice remain highly controversial. Kennedy bill supporters believe that Matthew Shepard's murder may have –by turning hate issues into gay hate issues—doomed the proposed legislation.

gbauer.gif - 5.36 K Gary Bauer What is being labeled "the gay community's fierce push for the bill" is also being held responsible for inciting fierce opposition to it by Republican-friendly fundamentalist hate organizations. These groups include Gary Bauer's Family Research Council, James Dobson's Focus on the Family, Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries, and the supporters of televangelist Jerry Falwell.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a strong backer of the federal hate crimes bill showed surprise and disappointment that Shepard's murder has not created enough momentum to galvanize action in the Congress.

He told reporters: "I've been around legislatures for a long time, and an event like that can galvanize public support and political thinking… But unfortunately in this case, we were unable to use this tragic event to prevent others from happening in the future."

A spokesman for the Christian Coalition promised to rally opposition to such a hate crimes bill next year too.

"There are quite frankly differing world views that vie at the center of not just this debate but the wider debate on gay rights….One side seeks to preserve traditional morality, and the other side, with a modified view of morality, is attempting to assert a civil right."

CNN hosted Attorney General Janet Reno on Sunday. The Attorney General says she believes such nationwide hate crime legislation is needed to address "situations where the state cannot or will not take action."

Supporters of the Kennedy bill do not intend, she said, that the Federal Government should seize the initiative from states, but that The Justice Department would consult with states and "if the state after consultation cannot do it and says that the federal government should proceed, this is too important for this nation not to let justice take its course."

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Janet Reno

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