Foes of Hate Crime Bill Prove Its Needed – Jessica Vozel

On the heels of President Bush?s war-funding bill veto will likely come another, just the third to join the short list of vetoes issued during Bush?s tenure at the White House. The proposed Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday despite the accompanying White House veto threat, includes provisions that would make it possible for federal investigation and prosecution of any hate crime, as well as a more-publicized tenet that expands the definition of hate crimes to include attacks based on sexual orientation, transgender identity, gender and disability.

Currently, hate crimes are only taken to the federal level if they involve federally protected activities, such as voting, attending school and moving across state lines, and cover violence based on race, religion and national origin.

Most media and public attention is focused on the clause that offers greater protection for sexual minorities. But it shouldn?t even be news. Federal hate-crimes protection for homosexuals, transgender individuals and other members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community should have been a part of national law for years, especially given the 1993 rape and murder of 21-year-old Brandon Teena, a transgender individual, and the widely publicized, brutal slaying of Matthew Shepard, a homosexual, in 1998.