by Andy Birkey • Rep. Michele Bachmann spoke out against federal hate crimes bill being considered on the U.S. House floor on Wednesday by conflating gays and lesbians with pedophiles, and saying that the bill would protect pedophiles from hate crimes.
“[A]pparently people who are practicing pedophiles would be considered protected under this legislation, but not, I understand, veterans, not, I understand, pregnant women, not, I understand, 85-year-old grandmothers would be protected under this law,” she said. “But who would be protected? A pedophile, someone who considers themselves gay, someone who considers themselves transgender, someone who considers themselves a cross-dresser? That is who is protected.”
The bill, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, adds “sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person” to existing federal law which currently includes race, color, religion, or national origin. Minnesota Reps. Betty McCollum and James Oberstar are co-sponsors.
Contrary to Bachmann’s statement, pedophilia is not considered a sexual orientation, a disability or a gender identity, and is instead a criminal act.
Peterson bucks party on hate crimes vote
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed the U.S. House Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 249 to 175. The bill, which extends existing hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation, gender identity and disability, passed mainly along party lines with Republicans in opposition and Democrats supporting the bill.
Among Minnesota’s Congressional delegation, Rep. Collin Peterson was the only crossover vote and one of only 16 House Democrats voting “no.’ He was joined Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann, John Kline and Erik Paulsen in opposing the legislation.
Reps. Tim Walz and Keith Ellison joined bill cosponsors James Oberstar and Betty McCollum in voting for the bill. Ellison, a co-chair of the House LGBT Caucus, praised the bill’s passage.
“Hate crimes are an especially insidious problem in this country,” Ellison said. “They often are underreported or not reported at all – especially when they are based on sexual orientation. I welcome this long over-due Federal legislation.”
A companion bill has been offered in the Senate. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a cosponsor along with several Senate Republicans.
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