Senate OKs Sweeping Hate Crimes Bill. But Is Obama About to Veto It?


It’s called S.B. 909, and you’ll want to remember it: It’s the bill the U.S. Senate passed that will hopefully add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal hate crimes protections. Only problem? President Obama has promised he’ll veto the thing.

But not because he doesn’t back hate crimes legislation. He does. The problem comes with the provisions being passed as an amendment to the Defense Department’s budget bill, and Obama says he’ll nix any bill hitting his desk that authorizes more funding for the F-22 fighter program, which he’s trying to kill. The House, meanwhile, passed its own version of the law in April, as a standalone bill.

So while both houses of Congress, the White House, and even the Justice Department want to add these new protections, the means of doing so has complicated the whole process.

ALSO: The Senate’s bill “only authorizes federal prosecutions of hate crimes when the state or local authorities are unwilling or unable to do so.” That is, the feds won’t have the ability to raise their own hate crimes case without the authorities on the ground moving first.

PLUS: And not that conservatives will take much solace, but “[s]upporters also emphasized that prosecutions under the bill can occur only when bodily injury is involved, and no minister or protester could be targeted for expressing opposition to homosexuality, even if their statements are followed by another person committing a violent action. To emphasize the point, the Senate passed provisions restating that the bill does not prohibit constitutionally protected speech and that free speech is guaranteed unless it is intended to plan or prepare for an act of violence.”

NB: Want to know which way your senator voted? See here. But if John McCain represents you, you already know how he feels, thanks to this grievous speech: