US House Passes Matthew Shepard Act
The United States House of Representatives passed a Federal Hate Crimes Bill Wednesday afternoon. House lawmakers voted 249-175 to approve the bill, which would extend hate crime protections to LGBT Citizens.
Louisiana Republican Joseph Cao (GOW) is an Asian American, and one of 18 Republicans who supported the measure. He said the bill will protect civil rights.
Cao: I as a Minority, am acutely aware of the freedoms and protections offered by the laws of this land. The provisions of this bill will assist prosecutors in enforcing the rights guaranteed by the constitution.
Most opponents of the bill claimed the bill would create a special class of people. Missouri Republican Todd Akin said the measure would elevate one group above another.
Akin: This is counter to everything American law has ever stood for, and will increase hatred in America.
But openly gay Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank said the bill is not controversial simply because it expands hate crime protections already on the books.
Frank: There are other categories. Age and Race. Let’s be very clear Mr. Chairman. It is not the concept of hate crime protection that is controversial. We have had it, and it has been administered. It is extending it to people like me. People who are gay.
The 74 vote margin was 17 votes greater than the 2007 version of the bill, which passed the House by 57 votes. The Senate version of the bill was introduced on Tuesday.