Monday, May 4, 2009

Clergy Descend on Washington to Advocate for Gay Rights

WASHINGTON—Months after giving an invocation at a kickoff event for President Barack Obama's inauguration, the U.S. Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop returned to Washington on Monday to persuade Congress to pass an expanded hate crimes bill.

V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire is among more than 300 clergy members from different faiths who planned to spend Tuesday lobbying on Capitol Hill for support of a bill that broadens the definition of hate crimes to include those motivated by a person's sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. The House passed the legislation 249-175 last week over conservatives' objections.

A weaker bill died two years ago under a veto threat from President George W. Bush. In contrast, Obama is urging the Senate to support it, saying it would enhance civil rights protections.

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