October 13, 2009
[efoods]What does a hate crimes bill have to do with money for U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Nothing, except that the National Defense Authorization Act, which will win final passage in Congress and be sent to the president’s desk this week, also contains the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which Democrats placed inside the defense measure over Republican objections.
The crime bill — which would broaden the protected classes for hate crimes to include sexual orientation and “gender identity,” which the bill defines as a victim’s “actual or perceived gender-related characteristics” — passed the House earlier this year as a stand-alone measure. But it’s never had the votes to succeed by itself in the Senate. So over the summer Democrats, with the power of their 60-vote majority, attached it to the defense bill.