jeff sessions

The U.S. Senator Trying to Add the Death Penalty to Hate Crimes Legislation

Sotomayor Senate

Hate crimes legislation is a’coming! Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how to phrase everything so when the gays and trans get some federal protections, there won’t be any confusion over how this stuff is to be enforced. Enter Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who wants to add this brilliant amendment: Give hate crime criminals the option of being executed.

Sessions, Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, is trying to add three different amendments to the Matthew Shepard Act making its way through the U.S. Senate. (A version of the bill already passed the House.) They are: 1) Let the death penalty be an option in hate crimes cases; 2) revise guidelines; and 3) make punishments even harsher for attacks on military servicemembers and their families. HRC calls these revisions unnecessary, and notes the irony of the very senators who are against protecting gays at a federal level wanting to tack on even harsher sentences than hate crimes laws currently provide.

The Senate will take up these matters today — and we’ll soon learn whether Sessions and his supporters really want to let anti-gay priests face lethal injection (j/k!) or are just trying to trip up legislation with over-reaching amendments. But kudos to Mr. Sessions, always looking out for gays in the military!

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  • Republican

    If you meet any anti-gays who claim that this will lead to priests being executed, remind them that, per less-than-two -years-old SCOTUS precedent, the death penalty can only be handed down if a life has been taken or if the person has commited a serious crime against the state, such as treason. Furthermore, even if that precedent didnlt exist, the 1st Amendment protects dissenters, even hateful ones. As long as they don’t get violent, they have nothing to worry about.

  • Steve

    There’s something about this guy, especially after seeing and hearing him speak during the Sotomayor confirmation hearings that makes me want to bitch slap the fuck out of him!!!

  • InExile

    GOP hate bigots will try anything to derail hate crimes legislation. This jerk is against anything equal, he is just trying to add a poison pill to kill the bill.

  • ThatguyFromBoston

    Because death makes everything better. Oh wait, I meant bacon.

  • Kieren

    Exactly In Exile, this is not about making bigots pay a harsher penalty for a hate crime, it’s about derailing the legislation, period. Not being a US citizen I don’t understand how, even now, Senators are allowed still allowed to tack on stuff to existing legislation. Shouldn’t Americans have done away with this practice years ago?

  • ask ena

    I’m with InExile. They’re attaching these amendments to try to get the anti-death penalty Dems not to vote for it. WTF is wrong with these idiots??

  • The Gay Numbers

    As is more accurately being reported at Pam’s House, Session is a bigot trying to attach a poison pill to killthe bill. These are legislative tactics like the GOP’s desire to “slow down healthcare reform.” They don’t want to slow it down. They want to kill it like they did with clinton in the 90s. You have to not be so doe-eyed innoncent about politicians. I know you hate Obama, but come on. This guy, Sessions, is apeshit crazy.

  • The Gay Numbers

    Re Session

    “Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-LA) is leading the opposition to immigration equality, saying it redefines marriage and allows for fraud.”

    via JoeMyGod

  • prissysissy

    Are you Queerty writers that dumb? You don’t realize that Sessions is a far-right bigot (he is from Alabama after all) who is introducing these amendments as “poison pill” provisions to KILL the hate crimes bill?

  • prissysissy

    @The Gay Numbers – correction: Sessions is from Alabama (AL), not LA.

  • Alex

    @InExile: A poison pill to kill the bill? Aren’t you being shrill? Had your fill of of the thrill of frill? On the sill of the mill eating krill will till the hill but come to nil if Phil and Jill spill uphill or shill for Nyquil.

  • Alex

    People are right about the tactics, but unless I’m mistaken, you still need a majority to pass them, and I don’t see eleven democrats crossing the aisle to help him with these transparent tactics, the only exception being the Vets amendment, which while I understand is a distraction, I personally don’t mind.

    Vets, as a group, are sometimes stereotyped (they all have PTSD, they’re angry, they’re suicidal, etc.) and certainly if they were targeted because of that, especially for job discrimination, I don’t have a problem with that being enforced. Is there anti-Vet sentiment anywhere approaching the level of homophobia that exists in our society? No, obviously not. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with offering them protection.

  • reluctant commenter

    @Alex: I agree. A lot of conservative pundits are throwing around the idea of hate crimes protections for soldiers and veterans, in response to the murder of William Long in Little Rock Arkansas, as if it should be some sort of divisive issue. It’s ultimately a politically motivated distraction, but I don’t know who’s really arguing against it’s merit.

    I don’t know the specifics of Mr. Long’s murder, but I’m just fine with hate crimes protections being extended to deter people from harassing, assaulting, or murdering men and women in uniform.

    Nevertheless, I do take offense to the idea that soldiers risk an equal level of from abuse from the general public.

  • AlwaysGay

    The republicans will do anything to stop gay people from receiving equal treatment.

  • tavdy79

    They’re wrecking-ball motions. The UK’s Civil Partnership Bill had about half a dozen tacked on by the Lords in an attempt to eliminate the legislation; fortunately the Commons got rid of them.

  • dave kurz


    I’m a Repub. and I want you to have all the rights everyone else gets, not one less.

    But, I don’t think you should have anymore that anyone else either.

    Have a good life and realize not everybody in any “group” is all good nor all bad.


  • Ian

    Session is the most anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-gay Senator in congress. He needs to STFU and not ruin the chances of passage for this bill.

  • RainaWeather

    @InExile: i agree it seems fishy. This is the same thing that happened with the civil rights bill of 1964. Women’s rights was tacked on at the last minute to try to kill the bill.

  • J. Clarence

    Sessions is such a douchewaffle. These amendments are only in there to allow other conservative pundits to attack the bill as being extreme and pushing away liberal democrats.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @dave kurz: You are pretty much delusional. Your being gay does not change that reality. The reason why this bill is necessary is the same reason as hate crimes in general are necessary: Local law enforcement will not enforce local laws to make sure gays are treated equally like everyone else. In that context, your comments are nonsensical fantasy.

  • Disgusted American

    Sessions..aka Beverly leslie, aka BrotherBoy from SORDID LIVES is a living breathing peice of shit!

  • SM

    InExile is right, the Republicans are trying to kill the Bill. It won’t work but keep contacting the White House and your Senators on it. Do not give up on it.

    If you think this is bad, just wait until DADT on DOMA hits Congress. It will be a nasty fight. That’s why strategy is half the battle.

  • galefan2004

    To my knowledge the Mathew Shepard act is not a stand alone gay hate crimes bill. It is an amendment to the current hate crimes bill. This would amend that bill so that all minorities that are targeted on a basis of hate would benefit from those proposed changes. I totally agree with his proposal. I can’t believe it is

  • galefan2004

    @galefan2004: coming from a Republican. I can see the level of skepticism in regards to where the measure is coming from.

  • galefan2004

    I also think that it is being read wrong. He is not requiring the death penalty in hate crimes cases. He is making it optional. Right now, the states decide what is a requirement to make crime able to pursue the death penalty. This would add hate crimes to that list for all 50 states. Could it be that he is upset about a veteran being targeted for a hate crime and wants to address that. Even a blind bigot can do something right once in awhile. Also, as I stated already, this would be included with all hate crimes not just the gay ones. Maybe this dude actually feels if you are going to change the original hate crimes act that you might as well add something to it to punch it up.

  • galefan2004

    I’m sorry, but my take on it is this. Everything he is saying is not that over the top. If you want to blame someone then blame the liberal dems that would do something as stupid as not support this crime if an option for the death penalty is attached. That is their problem. If they decide to deny us our rights because they don’t want some fuck head executed then they are in the wrong. Its that simple.

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