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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended June 25, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 20Jun00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

LDS Senator Argues For Hate Crime Legislation
Washington Post pgA17 19Jun00 N2
By Gordon H. Smith

WASHINGTON, DC -- US Senator Gordon H. Smith, an LDS Church member from Oregon, wrote in an editorial in the Washington Post today that a Federal hate crimes law is needed because hate crimes are different from other crimes. Smith says that hate crimes "while perpetrated upon an individual, the violence is directed at a community."

Smith is a cosponsor of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2000, which would authorize federal law enforcement officers to assist state and local police in pursuing and prosecuting hate crimes, such as the crimes committed against James Byrd Jr. and Matthew Shepard which got national attention.

Smith acknowledges in his editorial that the legislation is controversial. "Some believe that all crime is hateful, and that by providing federal resources for hate crimes we would be telling the victims of crimes committed for other motives that they are not as important."

The most controversial element of the legislation, according to Smith, is the inclusion of a category for sexual orientation. Smith says that some Senators will oppose the legislation because "they feel that to legislate protections for gays and lesbians is to legitimize homosexuality." While he once agreed, Smith says he no longer thinks so. "One needn't agree with all the goals of the gay community to help it achieve fair treatment within our society. It is possible, for example, to oppose gay marriage on religious and policy grounds but to protect gays and lesbians against violence on the same grounds."

Smith says that there are some times when one moral position is simply more important than another, "I often have told those who attempt to wield the sword of morality against others that if they want to talk about sin, go with me to church, but if they want to talk about policy, go with me to the Senate. That is the separation of church and state."


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