Hate crime bill faces veto threat

Published May 4, 2007

WASHINGTON - The House voted Thursday to expand federal hate crime categories to include violent attacks against gays and people targeted because of gender, acting just hours after the White House threatened a veto.

The legislation, passed 237-180, also would make it easier for federal law enforcement to take part in or assist local prosecutions involving bias-motivated attacks. Similar legislation is also moving through the Senate, setting the stage for a showdown with President Bush.

"This is an important vote of conscience, of a statement of what America is, a society that understands that we accept differences, " said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

The White House said that state and local criminal laws already cover the new crimes defined under the bill and that there was "no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement."

Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, warned that the true intent of the bill was "to muzzle people of faith who dare to express their moral and biblical concerns about homosexuality." If you read the Bible in a certain way, he told his broadcast listeners, "you may be guilty of committing a 'thought crime.' "

Fast Facts:


How they voted

Republicans Gus Bilirakis, Palm Harbor, Ginny Brown-Waite, Brooksville, Adam Putnam, Bartow, C.W. Bill Young, Indian Shores, and Vern Buchanan, Sarasota, all voted against the measure. Democrat Kathy Castor, Tampa, was the lone representative from west-central Florida to support it.

How they voted

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor: No

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville: No

Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow: No

Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores: No

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota: Mo

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa: Yes