By Rev Ted Pike
27 September 2007
By a vote of 60 to 39 this morning, Sens. Kennedy and Smith’s hate crimes amendment was attached to the defense authorization act. After three days of virtual silence, several Republican senators spoke against the bill within the two hours of debate. Sen. Lindsey Graham briefly argued that, if passed, the President will veto the hate bill and arms bill together, jeopardizing timely support of our troops. Sen. Jeff Sessions contended that states are adequately dealing with hate crimes and that Kennedy’s amendment burdens the defense authorization bill. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, arriving after the debate, was allowed to very briefly state that a hate bill was irrelevant to an arms bill.
The real hero of the day was Sen. Orrin Hatch. Yesterday he stood alone among Republicans to publicly oppose the hate bill. But today he spoke three times with powerful, logical, legal, and constitutional reasons why the hate bill is redundant to state law enforcement, which adequately deals with all kinds of violent crime. He said that gender identity, as put forth in this legislation, is unclear. Its definition depends on the subjective perceptions of both the hate criminal and the victim. He offered his own amendment (which was later passed unanimously) calling for the federal government to authorize studies to determine if states are adequately enforcing hate crimes laws.
Remarkably, Sen. Byrd of West Virginia, habitual supporter of the hate bill, voted against it. If only one more pro-hate bill Senator, Democrat or Republican, had been persuaded, either by massive calling during the last week or by impassioned attack of the hate bill on the floor of the Senate, the hate bill would have been destroyed in this Congress. It would have to be resubmitted in the next Congress under the stigma of having been rejected six times. Yes, the President has promised to veto today’s hate bill victory. But at the same time, the hate bill, through passage now by both House and Senate, is energized and dignified as never before to be easily ratified in the next Congress, little more than a year from now.
Credit for hate bill victory must largely go to the repeated impassioned speeches by Sens. Kennedy and Smith, but leaders of the religious right and Republican senators are, by default, just as responsible. Since the defense appropriations act was introduced 16 days ago, opening the possibility of hate bill attachment, there has been an astonishing lack of consistent warning from leaders of the religious right. This has grown even more acute since Monday, with a virtual blackout of warning from all new right websites (See, Do New Right Leaders Want Hate Bill Passed? and Hate Bill Ready for a Vote). As a result, the millions of calls which might have been generated amounted to a relative trickle. Only at the last minute, yesterday, when it became virtually impossible to influence today’s Senate vote, did new right leaders send out calls to action.
Such dereliction of duty was reflected on the floor of the Senate this week by the silence of Senators well known to oppose hate laws. Day after day they ignored invitations to speak to the Senate against the hate bill.
Both new right leaders and Republican senators represent themselves as watchmen on the wall, guardians of our freedom. Yet God told the prophet Ezekiel that if, as such a watchman, he knew the enemy was coming and yet did not sound the alarm, he would lose his eternal soul (Ez. 33)
For the past several weeks, both Christian and Republican leaders have seen the enemy coming. Yet they did not sound the alarm in a timely and effective way. For this they will have to answer to their Creator. Meanwhile, all Americans now are very, very much closer to having to answer to the federal “thought police” for every idle word that is not politically correct.
Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.
Let the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith teach you how they have saddled 45 states with hate laws capable of persecuting Christians: http://www.adl.org/99hatecrime/intro.asp.
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