After languishing in Congress for more than a decade, gay rights advocates expect federal hate crimes will see strong and swift movement due to support from legislators and a sympathetic president in the White House. The hate crimes bill scheduled for a Wednesday markup in the House Judiciary Committee, Southern Voice reports:
"The bill, H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, would give federal officials authority to prosecute hate crimes targeting people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, among other categories.
"Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chair of the judiciary panel, introduced the bill earlier this month. The House and Senate passed similar versions of the bill in past years, but supporters were unable to line up enough support to win final passage.
"The bill is scheduled to come before the committee in a 10:15 a.m. markup hearing Wednesday, where Democratic and Republican members are free to offer amendments to change the proposed legislation."
The hate crime bill should easily pass committee where Democrats outnumber Republicans 23-16. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), the only open lesbian in Congress, is among the committee's members.
Exactly two years ago this week, a similar bill passed the same committee. It passed the House of Representatives on May 3, 2007, 237 to 180. President George W. Bush vetoed the bill. President Barack Obama vows to sign gay-inclusive, federal hate crimes legislation.