U.S. Senate Adopts Hate Crime Amendment

Brownback Amendment Strenghtens Speech Protection

Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, sponsor of 1st amendment protections to the Hate Crimes Amendment to the DOD Authorization bill

U.S. Senator
Sam Brownback

WASHINGTON, DC, July 16, 2009 -- Late tonight, the U.S. Senate adopted the "Leahy Hate Crimes Amendment" to the Department of Defense Authorization Bill, but not before an amendment to the amendment was offered by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), and adopted that added and strengthened first amendment protections.

The Leahy amendment expands the federal hate crimes law to include gender and sexual orientation as protected classes. One major concern was that it could put religious leaders or others who speak on issues such as homosexuality in legal jeopardy under an “aiding and abetting” theory.

The Brownback Amendment strengthens first amendment protections in the hate crimes amendment for religious or other speech that is not related to planning or preparing for an act of violence or intended to incite an imminent act of physical violence.

The Brownback amendment passed on a vote of  78-13

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