Landmark hate crimes legislation passes
09/14/2005 @ 5:36 pm
In an unexpected 223-199 vote, the House of Representatives passed
sweeping hate crimes legislation Wednesday, including protections for
minorities and gays who are the subject of hate crimes.
The bill, authored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), was a rider on another
bill — the Child Safety Act. Thirty moderate Republicans joined the
Democratic caucus in supporting the amendment; the bill now goes to the
Senate, where its fate is uncertain.
Conyers was elated about the measure’s passage.
“The passage of this legislation is an historic event that has its basis
in the anti-lynching efforts of the 1930’s,” the Michigan Democrat told RAW
STORY. “This has truly been a bipartisan effort that was year in the
Conyers said it was the first criminal law-based civil rights legislation
to pass in decades.
In 2003, the most recent data available, law enforcement agencies
identified 9,100 victims arising from 8,715 separate criminal bias-based
offenses. Reporting by law enforcement is voluntary and it is widely
believed that hate crimes are seriously under-reported.
Current law limits federal jurisdiction over hate crimes to incidents
against protected classes that occur only during the exercise of federally
protected activities, such as voting. Such statutes do not permit federal
involvement in a range of cases where crimes are motivated by bias against
the victim’s perceived sexual orientation, gender, disability or gender
The Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay lobby, called the vote a
“historic step.” Also praising the move were the Log Cabin Republicans, a
more conservative gay rights lobby.
“Today the United States House has courageously stood up for basic
fairness for LGBT Americans,” Chris Barron, Log Cabin Republicans political
director, told PlanetOut. “This is a tremendous day for our entire LGBT
Four states have no hate crime laws on the books, and another 21 states
have weaker versions of the laws than the one passed today.
Conyers told RAW STORY the fact that the bill is part of a broader child
safety act will make it easier to pass in the Senate.