Hate Crimes Measure Changes Dem, GOP Positions on War Funding

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The Senate approved groundbreaking hate crimes legislation that includes violent crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation in addition to race, color, religion and national origin. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, named after two men who were brutally killed in 1998 for their sexual orientation and race, respectively, was attached to a defense spending bill that allocates $680 billion for the Pentagon’s 2010 budget.

“Too many in our community have been devastated by hate violence,” said Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese in a press release. “We now can begin the important steps to erasing hate in our country.”

But the issue was much more complex for senators. Though “supporting the troops” generally takes precedence for Republicans, 28 voted against the DOD budget, which includes a 3.4 percent military pay raise and funding to promote a second engine for the controversial F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

“It’s a shame that this piece of legislation was added to a bill that’s supposed to be about supporting our troops,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who opposed the measure.

In another surprising move, liberal Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) was the lone Democrat to vote against the bill. In a statement, Feingold said that despite the bill’s “important provisions,” which include the hate crimes legislation, “it does nothing to bring our open-ended and disproportionate military commitment in Afghanistan to an end or to ensure that our troops are safely and expeditiously redeployed from Iraq.”

To sum up: a measure protecting gay people from violent crime was enough to cause Republicans to pull their typically solid support for the troops and cause most Democrats to approve the bloated war funding they opposed vociferously during the Bush years.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate