Hate Crimes Language To Be Dropped From Final Bill, Says Activist

By Justin Torres | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

(CNS) - Andrea Sheldon, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, told CNSNews.com that language in the Senate Justice Appropriations bill adopted last week that extends hate crime penalties to include sexual orientation will be killed by the congressional leadership in the final bill, though at least one Senator disputes her claim.

Sheldon, who has tracked the hate crimes legislation since it was first introduced by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), said that "the language is going to be taken out in conference . . . That's the commitment from the leadership."

Sheldon also claims to have received a similar promise from Democratic Senator Ernest Hollings of South Carolina. But Maury Lane, a spokesperson for Hollings, denied Sheldon's assertion.

"Assuming things gets you into a lot of trouble," Lane told CNSNews.com, "and this seems to be a case of someone assuming something."

A spokesperson for the Senate Republican Conference was unable to confirm or deny Sheldon's account, and a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) did not return calls from CNSNews.com.

The Senate inserted the language from Kennedy's Hate Crimes Prevention Act into the Justice Department Appropriations bill on a voice vote late last Thursday. A similar House appropriations bill does not include the hate crimes language, and the two bills will be reconciled in a joint House-Senate conference in the next several.

It is in that conference, Sheldon claims, that the Republican congressional leadership has promised to drop the hate crimes language.

Sheldon and other conservatives have opposed the hate crimes legislation because they claim it further penalizes actions that are already punishable by the law; creates a special class of victims; and because the bill funds massive educational curricula that Sheldon claims display an anti-Christian bias.