The Anti-Defamation League slammed the U.S. Congress for dropping legislation to extend federal hate-crime protections to gays.
The measure had passed in the U.S. House of Representatives as stand-alone legislation but failed to do so in the Senate. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), a key backer of the bill, then attached it to a defense authorization bill, which passed. However, the legislation died this week in the House-Senate conference to reconcile the defense authorization bills.
“We are profoundly disappointed that Congress missed an opportunity to enact this legislation because of political maneuvering related to other issues, in a year when it had support of majorities in both the Senate and the House,” the ADL said in a statement Friday. “This bill would have significantly expanded existing law, and given federal law enforcement a long overdue and needed tool in the fight against hate violence.”
Some lawmakers opposed the hate-crimes amendment, saying it was unrelated and inappropriate to defense legislation. Others feared that President George W. Bush would veto the overall measure if it included the hate-crimes provision. Bush had suggested he would do so, citing concerns by conservative Christians who see it as a back-door way to enshrine gay rights.
A coalition of Jewish civil rights groups had lobbied hard for the legislation.