Hate Crimes Bill Passes in Senate

This would be one example of why, despite our many legitimate grievances with the Democrats, there is still an essential difference between the two parties. The Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act would never have passed (or probably even been brought up for a vote) under Republican leadership.

You can read more about the specific provisions of the bill, which better enables federal and local law enforcement officials to prosecute hate crimes, here. And I'll just repeat what I said when the House passed its version of the hate crimes bill, with regard to the necessity of such legislation…

One of the most frequent talking points you hear in opposition to hate crimes legislation is that giving specific consideration to crimes committed against people on the basis of some specific part of their identity amounts to "special rights" and some kind of preferential treatment. If you hear this in the next few days and need a way to explain why hate crimes legislation is necessary, here it is: The prosecution of hate crimes requires special consideration because when someone is targeted for her/his race, nationality, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, it has the potential to affect everyone who shares that identity across the entire nation.

A whole community isn't suddenly considered unsafe because a husband murders his wife, because we recognize the difference between domestic violence and community violence. That murder wasn't random; it was specific. The victim was chosen for a reason. It doesn't make the crime any less horrific, but it doesn't reverberate. It stops with that murderer and that victim.

Hate crimes are the opposite of that; we recognize that when someone is targeted just because s/he is black, for example, that can make all black Americans feel that much less safe, irrespective of the safety of their physical community, because their race community has been attacked. In a hate crime, it doesn't matter which black person/gay person/woman/Jew/quadriplegic had been there; it's so nonspecific that it inevitably reverberates. Suddenly blacks/gays/women/Jews/quadriplegics are staying indoors a little more, feeling a little less able to go out after dark alone…lives of people not directly touched by the crime are affected—and that's why hate crimes legislation is needed, so that freedom can be equally experienced by everyone.

UPDATE: Here's the complete list of 39 Senators who voted against the hate crimes bill. You might notice they all appear to have something in common.

Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Martinez (R-FL)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Stevens (R-AK)
Sununu (R-NH)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)

Monsieur Maveriqué McCain abstained, naturally. Once again, I am pleasantly surprised by the vote of my Republican Senator Dick Lugar, who was one of only 8 Republicans to vote in favor of the legislation.

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