Under U.S. federal law, a hate crime is defined as a crime committed against a person because of his or her race, religion, color or national origin.
Now the U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend hate-crime protection to cover crimes spurred by a victim's gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. But the president is expected to veto that bill as soon as it lands on his desk.
The controversy stems around language dealing with homosexuality. The Bush administration says it's doesn't want people who speak against homosexuality to get caught in the middle.
While some agree, others don't buy it.
"The church cannot say we tolerate homosexuality," said Pastor Sterling Lands II. "Not ever."
"This act does not punish thought," said Paul Scott with Equality Texas. "It does not punish religous thought."
When it comes to proposed hate-crime legilation, no one is middle of the road.
Lands says he's against any legislation that affects his freedom of speech.
"To me, hate crime is attempting to put some limits on thought and attitude," Lands said. "It also seems to want to bridle the First Amendment."
KXAN's Sonta Henderson said, "Do you think you have hate speech when you speak against homosexuality?"
Lands said, "Absolutely not."
"What this really focuses on," Scott said, "is the intentional targeting of people for who they are and going out and committing a crime, whether it's based upon race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexuality or gender identity."
"I know people do feel sometimes it's being forced down their throats with the parades and that type of thing," said concerned citizen Patrick Lanhom.
Lanhom is gay and works at a gay bar. He says federal legislation is needed. Check out what happened to him in Houston.
"A beer bottle was thrown at me," Lanhom said. "It hit the ground. I wasn't injured, but it scared me. It shook me."
"If someone makes the choice to go out there and attack just because they are gay lesbian, bisexual or transgender, why is that the right thing to do," Scott said. "Why shouldn't that get the same type of review when it comes to criminal proceedings?"
Lands says he condemns crime against anyone but is steadfast in his belief.
"I don't think the church should tolerate homosexuality, but the church should invite them in because a homosexual is no different than any other sinner," Lands said.
You may recall Austin has seens its own share of crimes against homosexuals. After leaving with several guys, one man was beaten, cut and sodomized.