WASHINGTON (ABP) — By a large majority, the Senate voted June 15 to extend federal hate-crimes protections to sexual minorities.
Senators voted 65-33 to add crimes based on a victim's real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or disability to the list of hate crimes that federal law-enforcement agents can investigate or assist local officials in investigating.
The move came as an amendment to the bill appropriating Department of Defense funding for 2005. It was added by its sponsors in an effort to attach it to legislation that would be likely to pass — because the subject of adding sexual orientations to hate-crimes statutes has proven divisive in the past.
“It is no secret that with all the turmoil on the issue of gays and lesbians and their rights in this country, there are very strong feelings on both sides of this issue,” said Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), while introducing the amendment on the Senate floor. “I believe in gay rights. But I also believe it is not right in the case of marriage for a few liberals to dictate to the rest of the country a new standard.”
But, Gordon added, “Notwithstanding that, I have always felt before you get to marriage, you ought to get rid of hate.”
The appropriations bill to which the hate-crimes amendment was attached, S. 2400, is still under consideration by the Senate.