Hate crimes bill pushed by ADL and NCJW passes - finally
10/23/2009 - 00:00
James Besser
Friday, October 23rd, 2009 Despite claims by Christian conservative leaders that it result in jails overcrowded with pastors and other critics of the “homosexual lifestyle,” the Senate yesterday gave final approval to a hate crimes law that’s been a top priority for the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish groups for an embarrassing number of years.   The measure now goes to President Barack Obama, who, unlike his predecessor, is eager to sign it.   The measure extends existing hate crimes statutes to violent crimes committed because of the victims’ gender identity, disability or sexual orientation,  which is why conservative Christian groups fought furiously against it.  Preaching against homosexuality would be turned into a crime, they argued.   But the most conservative Orthodox Jewish group -  Agudath Israel of America – this week endorsed the bill, arguing that it would not endanger religious or free speech rights. And nobody ever accused Agudah of being a gay rights group.   The ADL and other groups worked – successfully, this time – to get it attached to a must-pass defense authorization bill.  The ADL’s Washington counsel, Michael Lieberman,  played a leadership role in drafting, promoting and passing the legislation for more than a decade.   Last night the laudatory press releases started coming in, led by the ADL, which called final passage “a landmark achievement in the decades-long effort to combat hate violence – and cause for celebration. This legislation is the most important, comprehensive and inclusive federal hate crime law enacted in the past 40 years.” (Read the full ADL release here)   Nancy Ratzan, president of the National Council of Jewish Women,  said  passage “communicates a powerful vision and commitment: our nation is determined to end hate violence.  We must not tolerate violence that intimidates, injures, and even kills individual victims, and also terrorizes whole communities.”  (Here’s the full NCJW statement)   Also, this from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and this from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.   Want the other side in the debate? Here’s Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who calls the measure part of a “radical social agenda that could ultimately silence Christian.”

view counter

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.


I disagree with these laws because they essentially penalize someone's thoughts.

What does it matter if you murdered someone because you didn't like them or because they're gay? They're still dead, and you're still a murderer. Why should someone get a couple more years in jail because they killed a homosexual, a jewish person or a black person (because we all know that these laws are never applied to racist non-whites who kill white people)?