All that lobbying paid off. The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1592 232-to-180, with 208 democrats and 25 republicans voting in the affirmative. The Bill, also known as the Matthew Shepard Bill, will now go to the president. Unfortunately, the President has fallen in line with his conservative base and has vowed to veto the bill.
A White House spokesperson released a statement earlier this morning:
The Administration favors strong criminal penalties for violent crime, including crime based on personal characteristics, such as race, color, religion, or national origin. However, the Administration believes that H.R. 1592 is unnecessary and constitutionally questionable. If H.R. 1592 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
Meanwhile, the ACLU’s law-loving activist Washington legal head, Caroline Fredrickson applauded the move:
Prosecuting violent hate crimes is critically important. This bill will also protect due process and the Constitution, especially our First Amendment rights to speak freely and associate with whom we’d like. When a person inflicts violence based on hate, it is important that they be punished.
She did warn, however, that we must all respect free speech.
Barney Frank spoke freely after the vote. From Joe.My.God, “From the podium, Barney Frank exhulted, ‘The bill is passed!’” Go on and celebrate, Frank, you deserve it.