The house voted by a wide margin to change the definition of hate crimes to cover those committed because of a victims gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
The hate crimes measure was approved as a part of a $681 billion dollar policy measure. Some republicans see this as blackmail. The bill also included military benefits, authorized pay, weapons programs, and other essentials for armed forces.
Some republicans accused supporters of trying to punish "thought crimes". They think it is wrong to punish someone based on what they may have been thinking.
Mike Pence, Republican for Indiana is worried the bill will inhibit freedom of speech and deter religious leaders from speaking their beliefs because of fear of getting caught up in the law.
The bill must still be approved by the Senate, but it has large support there.
I didn't realize that gender, sexual orientation, gender orientation, and disability were not already included in hate crime legislation.
Sexual orientation is included in 33 states hate crime legislation, but the only groups covered by federal legislation are race and religion.
I disagree with Mike Pence, when he says that he thinks this will inhibit freedom of speech. If religious leaders were going to worry about what they said about sexual orientation, they would also worry about what they said about other religions, because they are included in hate crime legislation.
This legislation is long, long over due and I am hoping it passes.