The Senate sneaked hate crimes legislation past us today. It’s ready to be delivered to the President’s desk for a signature and then it becomes law.
Call President Obama now and tell him DO NOT pass the Hate Crimes Bill!
Contact the President here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
See more here about the passage of the bill: Hate crimes bill set to become law
Here, excerpts from the Washington Post article by Ben Pershing:
The Senate cleared a historic hate crimes bill for President Obama’s signature Thursday, approving new federal penalties for attacks on gays and lesbians.The legislation, which was attached to the conference report for the bill outlining the Pentagon’s budget, marks the culmination of a years-long fight by civil-rights groups to codify the expanded protections. The law broadens the current definition of federal hate crimes — which covers attacks motivated by race, color, religion or national origin — to include those based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It would also create a new federal crime to cover attacks against U.S. military personnel because of their service.
The measure was approved, 68 to 29, with a majority of Republicans voting against it. The House passed the same bill Oct. 8, also with most Republicans opposed.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who helped ensure that the hate crimes measure was added to the defense bill, called the vote a necessary step forward. “I am proud that Congress has come together to show that violence against members of any group because of who they are will not be tolerated in this country,” he said.
The hate crimes measure is named for Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was murdered in 1998, and James Byrd Jr., a black man who was dragged to death behind a pickup truck in Texas in 1998. Shepard’s family founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which helped lobby for the measure that is now set to become law. Offered repeatedly by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the bill had stalled previously in the Senate, and President George W. Bush vowed to veto it if it ever reached his desk.
But Obama plans to sign the measure, a key moment for a president who has been subject to grumbling from some gay and lesbian activists that he hasn’t so far pushed hard enough for their agenda. Obama has vowed to fight for gays and lesbians on other fronts, including repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Separately, congressional Republicans objected to the process used to move the hate crimes bill, complaining that Democrats attached the hate crimes language to the defense authorization measure as a cynical ploy to dare the GOP to vote against it.
“It’s a shame that this piece of legislation was added to a bill that’s supposed to be about supporting our troops,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).
The Defense measure outlines a $680 billion budget for the Pentagon in fiscal 2010, including $130 billion for ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill authorizes a 3.4 percent pay raise for the military and also includes funding to continue promotion of a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. While many members of Congress support the alternate engine program — which creates jobs in several different states and districts — the Obama administration has called it a waste of money and threatened to veto the bill if funding for the program remained.
Despite that threat, Obama is now expected to sign the measure.