Thursday, May 3, 2007

Mike Rogers Opposes Hate Crime Legislation

This is "Compassionate Conservatism" at its finest.

Mike Rogers voted against H.R. 1592, the "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007" (also known as the Matthew Shepard Act) today. Here's a little background information about this bill:
[H.R. 1592] Authorizes the Attorney General to provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any crime that: (1) constitutes a crime of violence under federal law or a felony under state, local, or Indian tribal law; and (2) is motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim or is a violation of the state, local, or tribal hate crime laws.
Here are some quotes (and links to video) of Democratic lawmakers explaining why we need this important legislation:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Every day we that we come to this floor we pledge allegiance to the flag and at the end of that pledge we say, ‘liberty and justice for all.’ And that is what today is about…Hate crimes have no place in America - no place where we pledge every morning ‘with liberty and justice for all.’ We must act to end hate crimes and save lives." [YouTube]
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: “Some people ask: Why is this legislation even necessary? To them, I answer: because brutal hate crimes motivated by race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation and identity or disability not only injure individual victims, but also terrorize entire segments of our population and tear at our nation’s social fabric." [YouTube]
Majority Whip James Clyburn: King went on to say that it is always right, the right time to do that which is right. Now a lot of people yesterday told me that this is the wrong time to bring this legislation. For a moment I agreed, but reflecting on Dr. King’s admonition that the time is always right to do right, I come before this body today to ask us to use the time that we have before us to do right by those people who may not be like us.” [YouTube]
Here's another little tidbit about the bill (from AmericaBlog):
The GOP has been refusing to support the hate crimes bill because it doesn't include members of the US Armed Forces and senior citizens. Conyers just rose and basically said, okay, I'll add them. The Republicans' response? Uh, no.

The Republicans have been railing for days about how this legislation doesn't cover our Armed Forces and senior citizens, and now that the Dems offer to put our Armed Forces and seniors in this legislation, the Republicans said no and affirmatively stopped the Democrats from doing it anyway.

That means the Republicans had no intent on helping our Armed Forces and seniors, on protecting them. It was just a stunt. The GOP leaders in Congress just got up and used our Armed Forces and seniors as political fodder when they had no intent on actually doing anything to help our Armed Forces and seniors.
Here is the response from the Matthew Shepard Foundation, following today's vote:
“I am encouraged that the House was able to overcome the lies and misinformation being spread by anti-gay organizations trying to derail this bill. As the parent of a young man killed simply for being gay, I refuse to be silent and let this bill be misconstrued by these organizations,” continues Judy Shepard.

Current federal hate crimes law permits the federal prosecution of a hate crime only if the hate crime was motivated by bias based on race, color, religion, or national origin and the assailant intends to prevent the victim from exercising a "federally protected right" such as the right to vote or attend school. If this legislation is passed by the Senate and signed by the president, the law would be expanded to protect the GLBT community as well as remove the restrictions on what type of acts can be considered applicable under hate crime law.
For the record, the bill passed by a vote of 237-180. Unfortunately, President Bush has said he will veto the bill.

According to Project Vote Smart, Mike Rogers has received failing grades from numerous Civil Rights organizations since he took office. Here are just a few examples:
2005 Representative Rogers supported the interests of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 22 percent in 2005.

2005 Representative Rogers supported the interests of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights 0 percent in 2005.

2003-2004 Representative Rogers supported the interests of the Human Rights Campaign 0 percent in 2003-2004.
With a record like that, along with his ties to well-known bigots like Ann Coulter and Kyle Bristow, it's really no surprise that Mike Rogers voted no on this bill.

Michigan's 8th district deserves better representation.

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