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March 13, 1990: Federal hate-crimes legislation, round one.

As the 1999 Hate Crimes Prevention wallows in congressional committee, only two federal hate-crimes laws currently include sexual orientation. One, the 1994 Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act, provides tougher sentencing for explicit hate crimes committed on federal property. The other, the 1990 Hate Crimes Statistics Act, requires the Justice Department to collect data on prejudice-motivated crimes based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and ethnicity.

Advocate writer Rick Harding hailed the February 8, 1990, Senate passage of the act as "one of [gay people's] first-ever victories" in Congress, adding that it handed "antigay senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) a rare defeat." The Senate rejected a Helms amendment, which would have added that "the homosexual movement threatens the strength and survival of the American family as a basic unit of society."

Although the bill had the support of "dozens of civil rights, police, legal, and religious organizations as well as the Bush administration," Harding wrote that it took a last-minute amendment by senators Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to thwart Helms. Their amendment stated that the act did not "promote or encourage homosexuality." Hatch, a staunch conservative, said at the time, "This bill would [not] be half as good if we did not include [violence against gays] in it, because we know it is going on. We know it is wrong. It is against everything ... Americans stand for."
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:recent hate crimes acts do not go far enough
Author:Romesburg, Don
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 12, 1999
Previous Article:Family feud.
Next Article:Garofalo's a lethal lesbian on Sopranos.

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