The House of Representatives on Thursday voted to expand the definition of hate-crimes to include violence motivated by perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the only openly gay member of Congress, presided as the 237-180 vote tally was read. Already, advisers to President Bush have recommended that he veto H.R.1592.
Republican representatives offered several unsuccessful amendments. Rep. Lamar Smith asked the House to provide hate-crime protection for the elderly and members of the Armed Forces. Earlier in the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Mike Pence proposed adding the statement, "Nothing in this section limits the religious freedom of any person or group under the Constitution."
Since 1969, federal law has authorized the government to prosecute hate-crimes related to race, color, religion, or national origin when committed in the context of "federally protected activities," such as voting or attending school. Hate-crimes accounted ...1