Editor's Note: Guest blogger Donna Pandori is a transplant from upstate New York and often wonder why the heck she moved to Indiana.
H.R. 1913 Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 passed, but not with the help of Congressman Joe Donnelly or Congressman Brad Ellsworth.
In fact Congressman Donnelly and Ellsworth are the only Indiana Democrats who voted against H.R. 1913. To put it in further perspective Donnelly and Ellsworth broke from their party line as 90% of their Democratic colleagues voted in favor of passing H.R. 1913.
H.R. 1913 in summary:
- Drops the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally-protected activity
- Adds sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to the law
- Makes grant money and resources available to local communities when a hate crime has been committed
- Allows federal authorities to assist in investigations if needed.
Why did they vote No?
I imagine their arguments against H.R. 1913 are pretty much the same as their arguments (here and here) were against the 2007 version of The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1592). Which leads one to wonder...
- Was their vote against H.R. 1913 a matter of personal convictions or
- Did they succumb to the rhetoric and fear tactics used by the Republican Party or
- Are they pandering to their conservative base or
- Did they vote "safe" because the House had the votes for passage?
Where do Donnelly and Ellsworth stand on legislation important to the GLBT community? The 2008 Congressional Scorecard released by the Human Rights Campaign measuring the support for equality in the 110th Congress provides insight. Out of 100 possible points Donnelly and Ellsworth both scored a meager 30 [PDF]. This is less than mediocre.
Certainly an eye opener and wake up call.
Is this the best we can expect from Donnelly and Ellsworth in the future? When it comes to human and civil rights there should be no compromise. Mediocrity on these issues is no guarantee those in the GLBT community who have supported Donnelly and Ellsworth in the past will continue to do so in the future.
Congressman Donnelly's canned response e-mail
May 1, 2009
Dear Ms. Pandori,
Thank you for contacting me about hate crimes legislation. I value your views, and your input helps me better represent Indiana's Second District in Congress.
All violent crimes are in some way born of hate, and I believe all should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of motive. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors do their best to punish violent criminals, but they cannot eradicate hate from our society. It is up to us-in how we raise our children and how we treat one another-to limit the impact hate has on our communities.
With this in mind, I voted against H.R. 1913, The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which passed the House of Representatives on April 29, 2009 by a vote of 249 to 175. If signed into law, this bill would expand the types of crimes and victims covered by federal hate crimes law, strengthen covered penalties, and provide grants to prosecute these hate crime provisions.
While I am not convinced that a federal hate crimes law would reduce the incidence of crime in our communities, Congress should play an active role in supporting the work of our police departments and prosecutors. That is why I support increasing funding for the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program to help state and local law enforcement entities hire new prosecutors and pay for overtime, training and equipment, and why I have cosponsored legislation to reauthorize the Community-Oriented Policing (COPS) Program to put tens of thousands of additional police officers onto our streets.
Thank you again for contacting me about this important issue. Please do not hesitate to write, call or email me again if I can ever be of assistance. Also, if you would like to receive regular updates on my actions on your behalf in Congress, sign up for my e-newsletter, The Donnelly Dispatch, at http://donnelly.house.gov.
Member of Congress
H.R. 1913 Indiana Congressional Votes
Peter Visclosky [D IN-1] (202) 225-2461
André Carson [D IN-7] (202) 225-4011
Baron Hill [D IN-9] (202) 225-5315
Mark Souder [R IN-3] (202) 225-4436
Stephen Buyer [R IN-4] (202) 225-5037
Dan Burton [R IN-5] (202) 225-2276
Mike Pence [R IN-6] (202) 225-3012
Joe Donnelly [D IN-2] (202) 225-3915
Brad Ellsworth [D IN-8] (202) 225-4636