Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is hoping to add three different amendments to the Matthew Shepard Act in an attempt to kill support for the expansion of hate crimes laws to protect the LGBT community.
You may know Senator Sessions as the race-baiting, bigoted failed Judicial nominee who now, in a show of the Republican sense of irony, is the top GOP leader in the Senate Judiciary Committee. During the Sotomayor hearings, he repeatedly made ridiculous, racially-charged comments (not to mention to the rather hilarious "quote of the hearing" line- saying he "wanted to do that crack cocaine thing" with the nominee).
Well now Sesssions is trying to add poison pills to the Matthew Shepard Act to ensure it goes down in flames. According to HRC Backstory:
The first Sessions Amendment would allow the death penalty to be applied in hate crimes cases under some circumstances. This Amendment is unnecessary and is a poison pill designed to kill the bill. The Amendment is being offered by and supported by Senators who oppose the Matthew Shepard Act. It's ironic that the very Senators who have falsely argued that this bill would put clergy in jail because of their beliefs think that those same clergy should be subject to the death penalty.
Much more after the jump...
The other amendments Sessions is looking to add:
The second Sessions Amendment would place an additional burden on the Justice Department to revise its long established guidelines for hate crimes cases. This Amendment is unnecessary. The Department already contains well-established, clear and precise guidelines to govern cases involving bias-motivated violence that work well.
Finally, the third Sessions Amendment would provide additional penalties for crimes involving servicemembers or their families. This Amendment is unnecessary. Existing statutes already provide special penalties on attacks against members of the Armed Services and veterans. In addition, the vague language of the Amendment is problematic. The Amendment provides for additional penalties for injuring the property of a serviceman or immediate family member. The scope of "family member" or what constitutes an "injury" to their property is unclear.
These are obvious Republican attempts to kill the legislation.
The Matthew Shepard Act is already on very shaky ground, having been attached to the Defense Appropriations Bill, which is being threatened with a Presidential veto over controversial funding for F-22 fighter planes.
It looks like Sessions is becoming one of the new "leading voices" in the GOP, spearheading their efforts when they need to attack minorities (something he is very very good at and has years of practice doing).
We have to make sure these poison pills don't get added on to cripple an already tenuous chance of the legislation passing.
(h/t Joe My God)