We just received this email from Mat Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel:
I want to tell you about a stunning victory that just took place in Congress.
The House-Senate Conference has removed the Kennedy Hate Crimes bill from the Defense spending bill!
This is incredible news. Most pundits expected Kennedy's strategy of attaching the bill to a must-pass defense appropriations bill would succeed. But citizens like you sent faxes and made phone calls and the message got through!
This is the second major victory we have seen in the last few weeks against attempts to criminalize Christian beliefs in favor of a radical homosexual agenda.
The exclusion of the hate-crimes legislation, sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is a blow to civil rights groups who say it is necessary to address a rise in crimes motivated by prejudice against a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
I don't suspect the Human Rights Campaign will blast emails to its members about this defeat.
In a private meeting on Wednesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and House Democratic Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., told Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., that if the Senate continued to insist on the hate crimes provision the defense legislation would fail.
Levin, as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, oversees the defense authorization bill, which covers the 2008 budget year.
"We don't have the votes," said one House Democratic aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because conference negotiations are ongoing. "We're about 40 votes short, not four or six."
The Senate had voted in September to include the hate-crimes measure in the bill. The House version of the defense authorization bill, approved in May by a 397-27 vote, did not include Kennedy's proposal. The House passed a similar hate crimes measure as a stand-alone bill this year.
After the Senate vote, which prompted nine Republicans to break ranks and swing behind the measure, the White House stopped short of reiterating President Bush's veto threat against the hate crimes measure. But presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino made clear that Bush believes the federal provision is unnecessary.
"State and local law enforcement agencies are effectively using their laws to the full extent they can," Perino said