Despite the threat of a presidential veto, on Thursday the House of Representatives passed an expanded hate crimes bill that adds attacks against based on sexual preference and gender to the list of federal hate crimes. The legislation passed by a margin of 237-180. It also makes it easier for federal law enforcement to assist in the prosecution of attacks motivated by bias. The bill had been subject to intense lobbying by both civil rights groups and social conservatives. Civil rights groups have been advocating this protection for years, while social conservatives believe that the bill limits their right to express their moral opposition to homosexuality.

A statement on the Focus on the Family website describes what they view as at stake in the hate crimes bill, “What is at stake here is freedom of speech and the expression of conscience. Without a huge outcry from the public expressed to the House, Senate and White House, it will become law. The hate-crimes bill is another outrageous attempt to silence opposition to the political agenda of homosexual activists, including gay adoption, the redefinition of marriage, homosexual propaganda in the schools, etc. Depending on how the courts interpret the legislation, pastors may not even be able to speak and share Scripture in opposition to homosexual behavior, and, by extension, heterosexual promiscuity.”

The White House views the expanded hate crimes bill as, “unnecessary and constitutionally questionable. If H.R. 1592 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.” The reason given for vetoing this bill is, “State and local criminal laws already provide criminal penalties for the violence addressed by the new Federal crime defined in section 7 of H.R. 1592, and many of these laws carry stricter penalties (including mandatory minimums and the death penalty) than the proposed language in H.R. 1592…..  There has been no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement, and doing so is inconsistent with the proper allocation of criminal enforcement responsibilities between the different levels of government.”

While the White House is dressing up its potential veto in legal terms, the political reality is that they don’t want to go against the socially conservative base of the GOP. In essence, social conservatives are couching their objections in a free speech argument, but what they really want is for homosexuals to be treated as sub humans who have no rights. In my opinion, personal moral judgments should not enter this discussion. The question should simply be one of, should it be a crime to harm someone based on their gender or sexual preference. No one is trying to limit speech here. Those who disagree with it can still condemn homosexuality all they want. They just can’t attack or injure a homosexual because that person is gay. I will never figure out how people who are claiming to be guided by the Bible can be so cold and cruel to their fellow man. Sometimes, I think that they and I haven’t read the same book.  

Focus on the Family website

White House statement

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at blog radio

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