But the one truly incoherent position is that hate crimes laws are fine for all targeted groups except gays. Gays are among the most common victims of hate crimes, and straight people are also targeted for being gay even when they're not. If you're going to buy the whole concept of hate crimes, it makes no sense to exclude gays - none. Notice we need no discussion of the morality or otherwise of homosexuality. All that is being punished is the perception of someone else's identity. A straight, evangelical married man could have recourse if he was bashed because someone merely perceived him to be gay. A celibate gay man in reparative therapy could have recourse as well. So no serious moral argument can be made to distinguish the gay victims of hate crimes from other victims.
The federalist argument equally applies. If it is the position of the feds that this should be left entirely to the states, fine. But to say that the feds have a role in matters of race and religion, but not sexual orientation again makes no logical sense, unless the federal government wants to send a strong message about the moral and human and political inferiority of gay people.
Perhaps making these logical arguments is futile. The reason for this veto is quite simple. Christianists simply regard homosexuality as an evil and a sickness. Any law that implies that being gay is an identity and deserves equal respect and protection as other identities is anathema to them. Implicit in their worldview - and absolutely implicit in the position of the president - is that it's okay to attack gays in a way that it's not okay to attack, say, Jews or blacks. This is the core position of the Christianists - which is why I refuse to call them Christians. Bush, we now know, is a captive of this bigotry and an enabler of it. Whatever your general views of hate crime laws, this argument holds. And this president should be ashamed.
(Photo: my friend and former editor of the Washington Blade, Chris Crain, gay-bashed by Islamists in Amsterdam. By William Waybourne.)