The House voted Thursday to include sexual orientation and gender to the categories protected by federal hate crimes law. Also being considered is a measure that would ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Finally! It's taken only, what, 16 years to get this done?
Naturally, the president has threatened to veto the bill. A White House statement said the bill offered "no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement," as if making hate crimes against gay, lesbian and transgender individuals a federal crime would be meaningless.
The White House also called the hate crimes bill "unnecessary and constitutionally questionable."
Hmm. You know what else is constitutionally questionable? Having the stuffing kicked out of you because your sexual orientation is considered a different category of crime from having the stuffing kicked out you for belonging to a certain race or religion. In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, "A person is a person."
Saying that clergy could be accused of aiding and abetting a hate crime by speaking against homosexuality -- as opponents of the bill have been -- is weak. We have laws protecting freedom of speech and religion in this country.
So far, President Bush has vetoed stem cell research (science) and a timeline for troop withdrawal from Iraq (peace). Let's see if he'll go for a foolish third and strike out against equal rights.
© 2007 The Seattle Post-Intelligencer