Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Trans issue stalling Senate hate crimes bill

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According to an article published by the Washington Blade, Rep Barney Frank (D-Mass) says that the Senate hate crimes bill, in the form of an amendment to the Child Safety Act, is being stalled by the issue of providing protections for gender identity. The Senate has already passed hate crimes legislation three times in the past only to have the bill defeated in the House. The House of Representatives did, however, pass a hate crimes bill this September. The House version included specific langauge on gender identity whereas the Senate version only includes mention of "real or perceived gender". According to the article:
“The inclusion of the transgender provision is clearly holding up the bill in the Senate,” said Frank, who is gay. “It’s clear to me that the inclusion of transgender language is an obstacle.” The House in September passed a transgender inclusive hate crimes bill as an amendment to the Child Safety Act. The amendment was co-sponsored by Frank, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and passed 223-199.
Several anti-gay groups, including Concerned Women for America, have stepped up asking their supporters to contact their senators. They want senators to vote against an amendment to the Child Safety Act which includes the hate crimes legislation. The Child Safety Act, sponsored by Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) in the Senate, has not yet been scheduled for a vote. Another controversy concerning the hate crimes legislation is the fact that the Senate Judiciary Committe has created its own version of the Child Safety Act. The Judiciary Committee's version, called the Sex Offender Registration & Notification Act is sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and does not include the hate crimes amendment. A letter asking for the legislation to include full protections for gender identity was sent to Senator Kennedy by several groups, including the National Center for Transgender Equality, American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, along with 37 other groups. The Human Rights Campaign decided not to sign on to the letter and is instead pushing to see the legislation go into a conference committee where the gender-identity langauge can be added to a final version. Technorati Tags: , , , , ,