Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Senate's Gay Games: Passage of a Hate-Crimes Bill May Have Been a Political Ploy to Boost the Antigay Federal Marriage Amendment

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Senate's Gay Games: Passage of a Hate-Crimes Bill May Have Been a Political Ploy to Boost the Antigay Federal Marriage Amendment

Article excerpt

The U.S. Senate voted 6.5-33 on June 15 to pass a longstanding bill that would expand the federal dentition of hate crimes to include those committed on the basks of sexual orientation. But don't start celebrating just yet, caution some gay rights activists.

In addition to the fact that the bill faces an uncertain future in the U.S. House of Representatives, its passage in the Senate may only be political. "You could argue that it was a big day in pro-gay America," said longtime gay rights activist John Aravosis, cofounder of the Web site DontAmend.com. "Or maybe they're just using this as a cover." The Senate is scheduled to debate and vote on the antigay Federal Marriage Amendment the week of July 12; the battle by majority leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, to get the two-thirds vote necessary to pass the bill could be close. But by passing the hate-crimes bill now, Aravosis and others argue, Republicans and Democrats alike can seem pro-gay shortly before they vote to enshrine antigay discrimination in the U.S. Constitution.

"If that is the effort, it won't work," said Steven Fisher, communications director for the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign. "The American people don't want the Constitution undermined with a discriminatory amendment. …

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