Matthew Shepard inspires national hate-crime provision
Washington, DC – Senate Democrats are pushing a hate crimes
bill that they've attached to must-pass legislation bankrolling the Pentagon and the Iraq war.
The chief sponsor is Sen. Edward Kennedy and the measure is named for Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student who was beaten to death in 1998.
Proponents argue writing protection for violent attacks on gays into federal hate crime laws is an appropriate add-on to the war funding because both initiatives would combat terrorist behavior - one abroad and one at home.
President Bush has threatened to veto the hate-crimes measure.
Attaching hard-to-pass legislation to must-pass bills is a well-established strategy used by lawmakers of both parties, no matter who controls the chamber. Success means forcing squeamish lawmakers to technically vote for controversial policies embedded in massive spending bills - then hold them accountable at re-election time