House Republicans for the second time rejected the Democraticproposal that would strengthen the country’s hate- crimes law andextend its coverage to include crimes against gay men andlesbians.
The hate crimes law which is also known as theLocal Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (which is tacked onto theDepartment of Defense authorization bill) was designed to”fully prosecute bias motivated crimes that would targetindividuals based on sexual orientation,” says reports fromAdvocate.com, the award-winning gay and lesbian newsmagazine.
Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy andRepublican Senator Gordon Smith are both advocates for the hatecrime laws. According to Senator Gordon Smith, “Hate crimestear at the very fabric of our nation. These kinds of crimes domore than harm the victims. They terrorize our entire society andsend a message of hate and intolerance to millions ofAmericans.”
Opponents of the hate crimes laws view thelaws as bias. According to Yvette Cantu, a former lesbian, now apolicy analyst at the Family Research Council in the District ofColumbia, “Hate crime legislation creates a hierarchy ofvictims, so it’s saying that if a crime happens to one person it’smore important than if it happens to someone else.”
Adversaries of the hate crimes law questionthe law’s intent and say the laws give the federal government toomuch power, by allowing it to put major emphasis on criminalthought instead of criminal action.
According to Howard University Graduate,Kenyatta Hobson, who has a master’s degree in political science,”One way or another whether we are directly affected orindirectly affected, we all stand to benefit from the legislationpassed.”
“Politically, hate crimes legislationwhich should be at the top of human welfare concerns may not be ashigh a priority as the preservation of natural resources. These arejust facts of representation,” said Hobson.
The gay and lesbian community has foundrepresentation mainly within the Democratic Party. It is only inrecent years that the presence of gay and lesbian incumbentsinfiltrates the Republican Party.
Constituents of these representatives allshare different views on whether or not the treatment of gays andlesbians are improving. According to David Catania, a citycouncilman of the District of Columbia, the “GOP’s treatmentof gays and lesbians is at best unacceptable and at worsedisgraceful.”
Others may disagree, due to the fact that theonce anti-gay, religious, conservative, right wing party has made aturn around under the current Bush Administration.
Since President George W. Bush has come intooffice he has made considerable efforts to connect and communicatewith the gay and lesbian community. For instance, Bush hasappointed a homosexual activist to head the White House office onAIDS. He has continued the Clinton policy of issuing U. S.Department of Defense regulations to combat “anti-gayharassment” in the military, and has supported the applicationof a homosexual activist group as a consulting group to the UnitedNations.”
The issues of the gay and lesbian communitieshave been thrown to the forefront because of the 2004 presidentialelections. Hot topics such as gay marriage and stronger hate crimeslaws are still pending in the court of public opinion as well as inthe House of Representatives.