Allen criticized for hate-crime switch
Gay and lesbian groups upset by his new stance, cite presidential aims
BY PETER HARDIN
TIMES-DISPATCH WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT Dec 24, 2005
WASHINGTON - Sen. George Allen, who once was criticized by the right for his vote on a federal hate-crimes law, now is getting flak from the left for reversing course.
David M. Smith of the Human Rights Campaign, a national group advocating gay and lesbian rights, scorched Allen in a letter for announcing he would oppose making hate crimes against gay people a federal offense.
"We were very disappointed to read recent news reports that you are flip-flopping on your support for federal hate crimes legislation," Smith wrote Allen, R-Va., last week.
"Pandering to a small segment of Republican presidential primary voters does a grave disservice to the millions of fair-minded Americans of all political affiliations and leaves too many Americans in danger from hate motivated crime," wrote Smith, a vice president of the group. Allen is weighing a 2008 presidential bid.
Smith's complaint mirrored criticism by a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman that Allen has been flip-flopping on some issues of concern to social conservatives in order to appeal to conservative voters, who turn out in disproportionate numbers in GOP presidential primaries.
The Virginia Republican, in an interview, said he has looked at each issue on its merits.
Allen voted in 2004 in favor of adding sexual orientation to federal hate-crimes statutes. He said last week he revised his view based on a concern he has developed that federal hate-crimes laws could be used as a building block to making sexual orientation a national civil right.
In addition, Allen said in a letter to a constituent, that he believes the proposed changes could "have a chilling effect on First Amendment rights."
Dyana Mason, executive director of Virginia's leading gay-rights organization, Equality Virginia, said she was disappointed Allen does not favor the federal government aiding communities in dealing with hate violence that is based on sexual orientation.
Separately Phil Singer, a spokesman for the Democratic Party arm devoted to electing more senators, was asked about Allen's shifts on hate-crimes law, a gay marriage constitutional amendment and an assault-weapons ban.
"George Allen is in the midst of rewriting his résumé so that he can appeal to the conservative primary voters who control the Republican Party and will determine the 2008 GOP nominee," Singer said.
Last year, in a reversal from his 2000 campaign, Allen pledged to vote against renewal of a federal ban on 19 assault weapons.
Also last year, he said he would support a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In 2003 he had declined to endorse such an amendment - while reserving himself room to move on it.
Jennifer Duffy, a political analyst, said that in primary contests, whether Republican or Democratic, "candidates tend to shift a little bit towards the constituency that votes in those primaries, whether it be social conservatives or liberals."
"We've seen in the Republican field bigger switches than this," Duffy said of Allen's shifts. She works for Cook Political Report, which tracks campaigns nationwide.
In addition to eyeing higher office, Allen is preparing to seek re-election next year to the Senate.
A political magazine's poll of Washington "insiders" in April gave Allen the best chance of capturing the Republican nomination for president in 2008. A new poll this month by the same magazine, National Journal, continued to put him first.
A new national poll published by the Cook Report, and surveying 380 Republican voters as well as independents who lean toward the GOP, had Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani tied for first place for the GOP nomination with 25 percent each. Allen ran seventh with Gov. George E. Pataki of New York, at 3 percent each.
Contact staff writer Peter Hardin at email@example.com or (202) 662-7669.
"Hate crimes" are a legal fraud, since what they cover is already covered under other laws. It's just an additional charge that can be added on at the prosecutor's whim.
And gays are either already getting legal protection under the ADA act--if they would just admit that being gay is a mental disability. This is not so outlandish as it sounds--actual physical differences have been found in the brains of gay people (and animals). And if they aren't mentally disabled, then being gay is just a lifestyle choice and they don't deserve any legal protection for it.
Thus is the terrible plight of the gay/lesbian activist in America: they wish to avoid the stigma of having gays + lesbians being officially labelled as "mentally disabled" while still obtaining special legal considerations.