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White House set to show how much they hate gays, again

Tara Lohan: Bush is threatening to veto a new hate crimes bill that cleared the House.
 
 
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We all know how the White House feels about marriage equality for LGBT people. But their latest posturing when it comes to queer civil rights is too much.

Today the House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, 237-180, and a similar bill is expected to clear the Senate. According to the HRC, "The bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal hate crimes laws, ensuring that law enforcement officials have the resources needed to investigate and prosecute hate violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people."

The bills have been a long time coming, with many civil rights advocacy groups working on them for years. The Senate bill is sponsored by Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. and is named for Matthew Shepard, the gay college student who died after he was beaten and tied to a fence in Wyoming in 1998.

For the queer community, the passage of the bill is major accomplishment, but the White House has declared its intention to veto. Their rationale? The AP reports that "social conservatives, say the bill threatens the right to express moral opposition to homosexuality and singles out groups of citizens for special protection."

Special protection? Really? According to the AP, gays wouldn't be the only “special” ones.

Hate crimes under current federal law apply to acts of violence against individuals on the basis of race, religion, color, or national origin.

The House bill would extend the hate crimes category to include sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability and give federal authorities greater leeway to participate in hate crime investigations. It would approve $10 million over the next two years to help local law enforcement officials cover the cost of hate crime prosecutions.

Just because it is not surpising that the Bush Administration would take this position, doesn't mean that we shouldn't be outraged.

Tara Lohan is a managing editor at AlterNet.

 
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