U.S. hate crime laws
A timeline of legislative
activity in the federal House
Hate crime bills in the federal House:
1999 Activity: On MAR-11, House bill HR 1082, the Hate
Crimes Prevention Act of 1999, was introduced. Its text was very
similar to Senate bill S. 622. It was referred to the House Committee
on the Judiciary on MAR-11, and to the Subcommittee on Crime on
APR-1. No further action was taken.
2000 Activity: On 2000-SEP-13, the House easily passed a
non-binding resolution. It asked the conference committee for the
Department of Defense Authorization Bill to incorporate the hate
crimes legislation in that bill that had been passed as an amendment by
the Senate earlier that year by a vote of 57 to 42. That amendment would have added disability,
gender, and sexual orientation as protected classes to an
existing civil rights law which already protects people on the
basis of their color, national origin, race, and religion.
The vote was 232 to 192. 41 Republicans joined 190 Democrats support of
the resolution; 174 Republicans and 17 Democrats were in opposition. The
two independents were evenly split. 5 Republicans and 4 Democrats did not
vote. In order to become law, the conference committee, which is appointed
to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the
authorization bill, had to agree to include the hate crimes language which
was already in the Senate version. Then both the House and the Senate
would have had to approve the final version of the authorization bill.
On 2000-SEP-14, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, executive director of The
Interfaith Alliance, a liberal religious group, issued a statement:
"I applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for passing hate
crimes legislation. Neither hate nor violence is a traditional American
value, both are abominations to democracy and spirituality."
"Despite the ludicrous efforts of the religious right to defeat HCPA
through the manipulation of religion and scripture, their exclusionary
agenda did not prevail. The sacred scriptures of many different
religious traditions speak with dramatic unanimity on this matter of
hate. When true to the prophetic core of our various religions, we
cannot condemn hate and then refuse to act to stop hate and the violence
that hate foments upon us. Religion and government can work together to
create a society in which diverse people are safe as well as free."
"...We in the inter-religious community will continue to promote the
primal moral values that nurture respect for the dignity and worth of
every person and thus expose and seek to eradicate hatred as a
malignancy of the mind and spirit. While it is true that legislation
cannot remove hate from the hearts and minds of individuals, we learned
a long time ago that legislation, like hate crimes legislation, can help
to create a society in which people are influenced by their government's
unbending intolerance of prejudice-based, hate-motivated violence..."
Winnie Stachelberg, is a spokesperson with the Human Rights Campaign
--- a group promoting equal rights for gays and lesbians. She regards
the bill as a simple but vital piece of legislation: "It would just
level the playing field. It would close a very big loophole that sexual
orientation, gender and disability are not part of current law." 1
Pete Winn is an editor at Focus on the Family -- a
fundamentalist Christian organization centered in Colorado Springs, CO. On 2000-SEP-15, he posted an essay
on the House resolution . 2Although the
resolution, if implemented, would offer protection to bisexuals, disabled
persons, gays, heterosexuals, lesbians, men, and women, he focused totally
on the the gay/lesbian issue to the total exclusion of the other groups.
He quoted two conservatives:
Andrea Lafferty, spokesperson for the Traditional Values
"The 232-192 vote was made possible by an
alliance of so-called 'moderate' Republicans and radical liberals
who are pandering to the political agenda of the homosexual movement
and their allies who have recently attacked
vote was not about 'hate.' It was about anti-Christian bigotry and
providing federal protection to homosexuals under the guise of
protecting individuals from so-called 'gender discrimination.' "
The Coalition expects to inform 43,000 churches about how
their representative voted on the resolution.
Robert George, a professor at Princeton University, said:
"It is extremely unwise to include the category of sexual
orientation in hate-crimes legislation. This elevates sexual
behavior and certain predispositions to immoral sexual behavior to
the status of a civil-rights category. The message that that sends
is a very bad one." 3
Although the bill won the "support of a broad, bi-partisan majority
in both chambers of Congress, the President, and 175 law enforcement,
religious, civic, and civil rights groups," it was stripped from the
Department of Defense Authorization Bill on 2000-OCT-5 by a vote of
11 to 9. Sen. John Warner, (R-VA) chairman of the Senate Armed Services
Committee, said he was concerned the controversial measure would doom
the defense bill to a filibuster in the dying days of the session.
President Clinton said:
"...the Republican leadership made a serious mistake by
stripping the hate crimes legislation from the Department of Defense
Authorization bill, despite strong bipartisan support in both the House and
Senate. The Republican leaders have turned their backs on legislation
designed to send the message that all persons should be treated the same
under the law -- no matter what their race, color, religion, sex, national
origin, sexual orientation, or disability."
Senate Democrats considered making a motion to consider a separate hate
crimes bill. They considered trying every procedural move possible, doing
"whatever we can" to get votes to allow them to "put pressure on
our Republican colleagues to do the right thing." While advocates say
they will keep working to get a stand-alone bill through Congress or get
the provision added to another bill, they admit that the defense bill was
their best chance. 3
2001 Activity: History repeated; the Senate attached a
hate-crimes bill as an amendment to a local law-enforcement act -- a bill
that had wide popular support. Chuck MiVille, a correspondent for Focus
on the Family wrote:
"It's a bill that politicians hate to fight because it makes them
look bigoted. Bind it to an anti-crime bill and it gets even tougher.
But that is the situation that senators face, now that a hate-crimes
bill has been introduced into the Senate, and Democratic Majority Leader
Tom Daschle has indicated he will make passage a priority."
"Proponents of hate-crimes legislation admit that, if passed, such a
bill would treat people differently under the same law. David Smith, of
the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay advocacy group, can
justify that disparity because he believes hate violence is rampant."
"Yes, everybody should be treated the same, but when hate and
violence occurs and targets entire communities of people, local law
enforcement is provided with extra challenges as this simply will
provide for them extra resources," Smith said.
MiVille states that hate crimes are relatively rare, and that hate
crimes legislation will "only politicize an already volatile issue."
However, one study indicates that 41% of adult gays have already been the
victim of gay bashing. MiVille quotes Michael Johnston of Jerusso
Ministries who said that if you poll the public whether gays and lesbians
should received additional special protection under a hate-crimes law, "the
vast majority...will say absolutely not; that's unequal justice under law."
This seems to be a confused response, because homosexuals would gain
exactly the same protection against assaults as would heterosexuals and
bisexuals. Persons of all sexual orientations would be protected by the
The bill never made it into law.
2005 activity: An amendment was launched to add a hate-crime
provision to HR-3132, "The Children's Safety Act." It passed the House by
a vote of 223 to 199. The bill would improve methods of tracking sex
offenders. It would also give increased protection to representatives of a
number of minorities who have been determined to be victims of hate crimes.
However, much of the media attention was focused on its inclusion of sexual
orientation as a protected class. Also, although this protects homosexuals,
bisexuals and homosexuals equally, much interest was concentrated on the
benefit to persons with a homosexual orientation.
Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council (FRC) stated:
"Criminalizing thoughts as well as actions, and creating special
categories of victims, are contrary to our entire system of laws.
Furthermore, granting special protections based on one's 'sexual
orientation' has repeatedly been rejected by Congress. It is shocking
that a bill designed to protect children from sexual predators is now
being used to protect the sexual preference of homosexuals. The Senate
should reject the House's attempt to advance the political agenda of
homosexuals at the expense of children."
The FRC claims that the measure was passed by "stealth," because much
Congressional attention at the time was focusing on the confirmation of
Judge John Roberts as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. 4
The bill was never made into law. The bill was later
introduced in late 2005 without the "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes
2007 activity: Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Mark Kirk
(R-IL) introduced H.R. 1592, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes
Prevention Act of 2007 (LLEHCPA). 5
As for previous unsuccessful bills. it would have updated the federal hate crimes act of 1968 which applied to only those hate crimes motivated by
racism, or hatred of a victim's ethnicity, national origin or religion. LLEHCRA would expand coverage to include crimes in which the perpetrator was
motivated by hatred of the victim's sexual orientation, gender, gender
identity or disability. More details.
2009 activity: LLEJCPA has again been reintroduced to the federal House
where it passed and was sent to the Senate.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Martha Kleder, "Constitutional implications of hate crimes,"
Focus on the Family at:
Pete Winn, "Punishing hate...or family values?," Focus on the
Various quotations taken from the United Against Hate web site
"FRC Denounces Stealth Passage of 'Hate Crimes' Legislation," Family
Research Council, 2005-SEP-14, at:
"H.R. 1592," text, at:
Copyright © 1999 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Latest update: 2009-JUN-28
Author: B.A. Robinson