Jim Brown - OneNewsNow - 6/17/2009 9:30:00 AM A leading conservative lawmaker says the only way "hate crimes" legislation can be stopped in the U.S. Senate is if senators believe that when they return home there will be some "pain" associated with a vote in favor of the controversial measure.
Flanked by representatives of liberal groups such as the Human Rights Campaign, the Anti-Defamation League, and La Raza, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) announced Monday at a Capitol Hill press conference that he is committed to holding a vote on the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act before the August recess. The bill would add gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity to the list of protected categories under federal hate crimes law.
Conservative groups anticipate Reid will try to attach that legislation as an amendment to another measure -- possibly the Defense Authorization bill -- sometime in the next few weeks.
Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) has pledged to do everything in his power to stop the hate crimes bill. He says his colleagues, especially red-state Democrats, need to be bombarded with at least 1,000 calls or emails from constituents who oppose the legislation.
DeMint argues the hate crimes bill violates free speech and the free practice of religion in America. He suggests that comments by pastors condemning a certain kind of lifestyle or behavior could be classified as hate speech under hate crimes legislation.
"And that's where we're headed, [that's] where we're losing our right to say that things are wrong," says the senator. "And in a society where you can't say things are wrong, you no longer have a moral society -- you no longer have minimum standards and high aspirations."
DeMint says people of faith cannot wait until a cloture motion is filed two days before a vote, or it will be too late to stop the effort by Harry Reid and other Democrats to "extort" votes by attaching the hate crimes measure as an amendment to another bill.