Matthew Shepard Act Passes, Republicans Threaten Veto

A few Republicans supported the Matthew Shepard Act, which protects gay and lesbian citizens from hate crimes, but Republicans like Lindsey Graham (suspected of being gay) say Bush will veto the bill. Larry Craig, of course, who is not gay, voted against the bill.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The matching legislation in the House of Representatives passed by a good margin, though the Matthew Shepard Act only passed cloture by a bit in the Senate. But it isn’™t surprising here tht Bush is going to veto the bill, nor that, in his first official vote since returning to the Senate, Larry Craig, who is not gay, voted against the bill, thus evidently proving he’™s either not gay or just stupid. It may not be homophobia that drives the Republicans, anymore, but fear of the religious right. You gotta believe there’™s going to be divine retribution from the Radical Religious Right against those Republicans who voted for the Matthew Shepard Act. In Larry Craig’™s case, his motive appears to be a fear of losing power, or access to free travel and thus opportunities to visit restrooms all over the country.

The Democratic-led Senate on Thursday voted to let federal law enforcement help states prosecute attacks on gays, attaching the provision to a massive spending bill for the Iraq war and daring President Bush to veto the whole package.

The White House wasn’™t commenting on the prospects for a veto of the underlying defense authorization bill. But some Republicans warned that’™s just what would happen after the Senate voted by voice to accept the hate crimes amendment.

‘œThe president is not going to agree to this social legislation on the defense authorization bill,’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. ‘œThis bill will get vetoed.’

Still, the hate crimes provision attracted significant support from the president’™s party. Nine Republicans were among the 60 senators who voted to halt any filibusters and bring the matter to the final voice vote.

What’™s encouraging here is that some Republicans appear to have made a different calculation than that the religious right Bloc will punish them for such a vote. And I’™m wondering what they think is in their political interest in voting for legal protection for gay and lesbian citizens. Nine Republicans in the Senate crossed the aisle for this bill, and I don’™t find that insignificant. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, whose opponent next year will likely be Al Franken, voted for the bill, evidently thinking his constituency would support the cause. Coleman evidently made the political calculation that citizens support legal protections for the gay and lesbian community. Others who crossed, such as Lugar, Snowe, Specter, Gregg, Voinovich and Warner, are all from states where they need not worry about the Radical Religious Right overmuch. Perhaps there’™s no especial Republican discovery of moral values here. IT’™s almost always a political calculation for them.

Friday, September 28th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

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