House Republican negotiators yesterday killed Senate-approved proposal to extend the federal hate-crime law to include crimes against gay men and lesbians, the Washington Post reports. The Senate proposal, which was also rejected by House negotiators in 2000, would have added crimes based on sexual orientation, gender, and disabilities to the existing law that allows federal prosecution of offenses based on race, color, religion, or national origin. Financial support would have been provided for state and local investigations and prosecutions of hate crimes.
Proponents, led by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), said the expansion was needed to ensure protection of all hate-crime victims. Opponents, including House Republican leaders, argued that labeling something a hate crime punished thought rather than action.