Jim Brown - OneNewsNow - 4/23/2009 6:00:00 AM Republican opponents of the controversial "hate crimes" legislation that passed the House Judiciary Committee today claim Democratic supporters of the measure are not being clear about who exactly will receive special protections under the bill.
By a 15-12 vote, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1913) was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee, paving the way for a vote in the full House next Wednesday. The bill would add gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability to the list of protected categories under federal hate crimes law.
Read related commentary: Separate but unequal protection
Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) told Democratic members that "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" are vague terms that need to be specifically defined since courts will be analyzing those terms.
This panel -- this Judiciary Committee, including the authors of this bill -- either don't know or won't say what the definitions are, for example, [of] gender identity [or] sexual orientation," King stated. "Does sexual orientation...include transvestism? Does it include transgendered? Are those two that are also part of sexual orientation?" he asked. "And if so, if that's two of 30 [orientations], what are the other 28 that are part of sexual orientation?"
Openly lesbian Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) responded to King by noting that gender identity is defined in the bill as "actual or perceived gender-related characteristics," but acknowledged that sexual orientation is not defined in the legislation.
"The underlying hate crimes bill or law that has been in existence since the late 60s," she said, "does not define the terms race, color, national origin, or um..."
King interjects: "That's because they're immutable characteristics."
Although it was not included in the bill, Baldwin said her definition of sexual orientation would be "consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality."
King offered an amendment that would have barred pedophiles from receiving special protection under the hate crimes bill. The amendment was defeated on a party-line vote 13-10. Congresswoman Baldwin said that amendment was "unnecessary and inflammatory."
Original story appears below ...
Dems caught in 'lie' during hate crimes debate
A conservative activist closely monitoring the hate crimes" legislation pending before a House committee says although the measure still poses a threat to the religious freedom of Christians who speak out publicly against homosexuality, the foundation of the bill has been removed.
Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee had planned on holding a vote on the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act yesterday, but due to a large amount of Republican amendments to the bill, the vote was postponed until this morning. The bill would add homosexuals and transgender people to the list of protected categories under federal hate crimes law. (Listen to audio report)
Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, notes that Democrats were forced to eliminate a key portion of the bill -- the findings section.
"We exposed the fact that they claimed, they have fraudulent claims that there was an epidemic of hate against homosexuals and drag queens, transgenders -- and that claim was the foundation of the bill," she notes. "They claimed that homosexuals are fleeing across state lines to avoid persecution, and that perpetrators are crossing state lines to commit crimes against these gays, lesbians, and transgenders, and that they have trouble purchasing goods and services or finding employment. We nailed them on the fact that that's a lie."
Lafferty says during yesterday's markup hearing, Democrats neglected to mention that in America -- a country of 300 million people -- there have been only 1,521 cases of hate against homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people.
The Judiciary Committee hearing resumes at 9:00 a.m. Central time today. A vote on the House floor is expected next week.