Saturday, October 10, 2009

How Latter-Day Saints In The U.S. House Voted On H.R. 2647, Which Extends Hate Crimes Protection To Gays Wrapped Inside A Defense Authorization Bill

On October 8th, 2009, H.R. 2647, which embeds hate crime protection for gays under the protective cover of a defense authorization bill, passed 281-146. The vote split nearly along party lines. Of the 281 Yes votes, 237 were cast by Democrats and 44 by Republicans, while of the 146 No votes, 131 were cast by Republicans and 15 by Democrats. The measure, which can be read HERE, was attached to a $680 billion defense authorization bill, described in greater detail HERE, and Barack Obama is a strong supporter. So if it passes muster in the U.S. Senate, it likely will become law.

Here's how the eight LDS lawmakers who have full voting rights in the U.S. House voted:

-- Jeff Flake (R-AZ): No
-- Wally Herger (R-CA): No
-- Howard McKeon (R-CA): Yes
-- Mike Simpson (R-ID): No
-- Dean Heller (R-NV): Yes
-- Rob Bishop (R-UT): No
-- Jason Chaffetz (R-UT): No
-- Jim Matheson (D-UT): Yes
-- Eni Faleomavaega (non-voting delegate from American Samoa): Did not vote.

To no one's surprise, Rep. Matheson lined up with his fellow Democrats and voted for H.R. 2647. But two Republicans, Howard McKeon and Dean Heller, also voted for H.R. 2647. Democrats deliberately embedded the hate crimes provision inside a defense authorization bill to facilitate passage, knowing that many House members would find it awkward to be placed in a position of voting against defense. Dean Heller has not yet explained his vote, but on his official website, Rep. McKeon explained why he reluctantly voted in favor of the bill. McKeon opposes hate crimes laws, but thought the defense authorizations were far more important:

“As Members of Congress we owe our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines the very best available equipment, training and support. The bulk of this bill reflects that commitment. However, it’s unfortunate that the final legislation included a divisive hate crimes provision that generated a largely partisan final vote. Our troops—and all Members of Congress—deserve better. We are all committed to America’s military personnel and their families, and the Democrat leadership should be ashamed that they used our troops as the lever to pass a highly controversial provision.”

Hate crimes laws divide and polarize society by creating separate "protected classes". They also implicitly violate double jeopardy laws because proponents believe a hate crime is not merely a crime against an individual, but also against an entire protected class. This type of thinking has Marxist overtones. Rev. Ted Pike discusses the dangers of hate crimes laws in greater detail HERE.

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