(CNSNews.com) - Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen, considered by political insiders to be a contender for the party's 2008 presidential nomination, is being accused of breaking a campaign promise with his support of pro-homosexual federal "hate crimes" legislation. Allen denies that he broke any promise.
The criticism comes from Joe Glover, president of the Virginia-based Family Policy Network (FPN) and involves an Oct. 27, 2000, letter that Allen wrote to a constituent.
The recipient of that letter was acting as a liaison between Allen - at the time a candidate for the Senate - and pro-family leaders who were concerned about Allen's position on granting legal recognition or special privileges to homosexuals.
"As we discussed, if I am elected to the Senate, I will take no action that would have the effect of elevating sexual orientation to civil rights status," Allen wrote, "including, but not limited to, adding sexual orientation to Federal Hate Crimes legislation or any other similar legislation."
Glover is accusing Allen of violating that pledge when the freshman senator voted to support the addition of "sexual orientation" as a protected category under the federal "hate crimes" law in 2004. The amendment did not become law, but the House recently passed a similar proposal. Glover is rallying conservatives to discourage Allen from supporting the current measure in an upcoming vote.
"If pro-family leaders talking to him privately can't trust George Allen to follow through with a promise," Glover told Cybercast News Service, "hopefully enough conversation with Virginians who feel strongly about this issue can make that difference."
But Allen insists he has broken no promise.
"When I ran for the U.S. Senate in 2000, I stated numerous times that I would support adding 'sexual orientation' to the category of 'hate crimes,' unless the legislation raised 'sexual orientation' to the level of a civil right, which I could not support," Allen said. He explained that the 2004 amendment was "different from earlier proposals," and "(did) not elevate 'sexual orientation' to civil rights status."
Glover argues that Allen's promise to "take no action that would have the effect of ... adding sexual orientation to Federal Hate Crimes legislation or any other similar legislation," in the 2000 letter negates those arguments.
"This isn't about what we're saying our position is," Glover said. "It's about what George Allen assured pro-family leaders, was his position."
Glover claims it was Allen, not the pro-family groups, who first used the language regarding "elevating 'sexual orientation' to civil rights status," during their discussions.
"He made it extremely clear that any type of legislation similar to what he was looking at in 2000 ... would have the effect, in his own words, of elevating 'sexual orientation' to civil rights status," Glover continued. "And he promised not to do it."
John Reid, communications director for Allen, called the disagreement "a misunderstanding of what the letter says and what the senator said over and over again in the campaign.
"We understand the sensitivity that others are expressing on this," Reid continued, "but the main point of Senator Allen's support for this legislation is to get criminals off the street and that needs to be the paramount concern here."
Glover scoffed at that claim.
"I know that he'd like to come up with some way to wiggle out of this," Glover said of Allen. "But the fact of the matter is he left himself no room to wiggle from it with this letter."
On Sept. 14, the House passed The Children's Safety Act of 2005 (H.R. 3132), which added gender, "sexual orientation," "gender identity" and disability to the list of motivations for criminal offenses which could trigger federal involvement in a state prosecution.
Critics charge that, in addition to providing legal recognition of individuals because they engage in homosexual behavior, the proposal could quash criticism of homosexuality by religious leaders.
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