Traditional Values Coalition Targets 13 Republican Senators Who 'Caved'

By Robert Baldwin | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - More than two weeks after its passage in the Senate, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act is still angering some Christian groups, who want to do more than just vent their frustration at the 13 Republicans who broke party ranks to support the measure. 57 - 42.

The HCPA was approved June 20th by a vote of 57-42, technically as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization Act. It had been sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy to end what the amendment called "acts of bigotry based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or disability."

Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition believes "too many Senators showed little or no backbone on this issue and caved in to political correctness."

"TVC views this as a defeat for families and a victory for homosexual activists who were seeking special rights under this proposed legislation," Lafferty said. "In addition, it will continue to fund anti-Christian bigotry and the promotion of homosexuals to children."

According to Lafferty, the TVC will inform its members, over 43,000 churches nationwide, of their Senators' voting record on this measure.

"[They] have lost touch with the majority of their constituents, whose religious beliefs forbid homosexual, transsexual and other behaviors given protection and legitimacy in this bill," Lafferty said. "We need to begin an education program for them and for members of the House concerning the danger this bill poses to the free exercise of religious beliefs in America."

"Currently, Federal law only permits prosecution of a hate crime if the crime prevents the victim from exercising a federally protected right, such as voting," said one of the bill's co-sponsors, Oregon Republican Senator Gordon Smith. "The HCPA will broaden federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes that cause death or bodily injury."

Vermont Republican James Jeffords, another co-sponsor of the amendment, added, "Hate crimes not only target individuals, but are also directed to send a message to the community as a whole. The adoption of this amendment would help our state and local authorities in pursuing and prosecuting the perpetrators of hate crimes."

Besides Smith and Jeffords, 11 Republican Senators supported the hate crimes bill. They are Conrad Burns of Montana, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, George Voinovich and Mike DeWine of Ohio, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Connie Mack of Florida, William Roth of Delaware, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Ted Stevens of Alaska.

With nearly half of the Republican Senators who voted for the amendment up for re-election this fall, growing popular support may have guided the vote. But according to Lafferty, "the people they are trying to pacify by voting for the amendment will not vote Republican anyway."

"They don't need campaign funds," Lafferty said, "They need spinal fluid."