U.S. hate crime bills/laws
Comments on bill H.R. 1592 law by
An existing hate-crime law protects people from assault and other serious crimes on the basis of their race, nationality, and religion. But it is only applicable in certain restricted cases.
The proposed bill would extend existing federal hate-crime legislation by adding seven additional protected groups:
|heterosexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals under the classification "sexual orientation;"|
|transsexuals under the classification "gender identity;"|
|men and women under the classification "gender;" and|
In addition, the law would apply to a much greater range of common assaults, aggravated assaults, attempted murders, and other hate-crimes.
We have collected twelve quotations opposed to the bill by social and religious conservatives. Although we did not select these quotations according to topic, it is important to realize that they identified the following specific groups who would be protected against hate crimes under this bill:
|Heterosexuals: 0 references|
|The disabled: 0|
Some of the quotations also mentioned "drag queens" and "cross-dressers" -- two groups who are almost exclusively men who dress up as women. Drag queens are usually male performers who typically "... dress in 'drag,' clothing associated with the female gender, usually highly exaggerated versions thereof." 1 Transvestites are generally men who are sexually aroused when dressed as women. Neither generally have a gender identity that differs from their biological sex. They would not normally be covered under the proposed legislation unless they also happened to be transsexuals.
We have been unable to find a statement by a social or religious conservative who mentioned gender and the disabled as protected classes except for GrassTopsUSA.com quote which correctly referred to "sexual orientation, gender identity, gender and disability." Otherwise, the statements seemed obsessed with the inclusion of sexual orientation in the bill, and in particular the protection of homosexuals.
People for the American Way, (PFAW) a liberal advocacy group, has criticized the opposition by social and religious conservatives against this hate-crime bill. Ralph G. Neas of PFAW wrote:
"The campaign is, of course, dishonest to the core. But it is part of a larger strategy that has been politically and financially useful to Religious Right leaders over the years. They tell millions of Americans, week after week, that gay rights advocates are out to silence conservative Christians, criminalize the reading of the Bible, and force people to choose between their faith and public service. It's not true. But it serves the radical right's political goals: it is easier to convince Americans to support discrimination -- even to oppose laws designed to discourage violent hate crimes -- if you have first convinced them that their gay neighbors want to shut down their church and throw their pastor in jail for reading the Bible." 12
|Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition wrote:|
"Under the cover of fighting so-called 'hate crimes,' H.R. 1592 will be used to fund anti-Christian, pro-homosexual/drag queen materials for children -- and divert scarce federal resources away from fighting Islamic terrorism." 2
Later, he wrote that the bill would:"... be used to establish a legal foundation and framework that will eventually be used to investigate, persecute and prosecute YOU, pastors, business owners and anyone whose actions are based upon the truths found in the Bible concerning homosexuality." 3
|Rick Scarborough of Vision America authored a statement titled: "Liberals in Congress move to criminalize Christianity." It states, in part:|
"... a hearing will be held on one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation ever to come before Congress -- H.R. 1592 ... Under the guise of combating a manufactured crisis - attacks on homosexuals - this bill would criminalize Christianity. Mark my words, if it becomes law, pastors and laymen could be prosecuted just for witnessing."
"Believe me, if this bill becomes law, radical homosexuals and their allies will have achieved their goal of legislating a weapon to wield against anyone who dares to call their behavior sinful or disagree with their agenda. And wield it they will! Those who dare to speak out for marriage, morality and the family will find themselves tied up in litigation, fined - or imprisoned! In a nation founded on Godly values, that must not be allowed to happen." 4
|Janet Folger president of Faith2Action is quoted as saying:|
"The 'Hate Crimes' bill is better named 'Hate Grandma' or "hate Free Speech' bill as it poses a serious threat to the freedom of speech for every American. We must stop it before they send your grandma, your pastor, or you to jail for sharing your faith or speaking the truth about an agenda that seeks to silence us." 5
|The GrassTopsUSA.com web site states:|
"The radical homosexual lobby has finally gotten what it ordered: a bill that, if passed, would pave the way for the criminalization of thoughts, values and sincerely held religious beliefs. H.R. 1592 -- and a companion bill that will soon be introduced in the Senate -- will empower the federal government to prosecute so-called 'hate-crimes' based on a person's 'sexual orientation, gender identity, gender and disability'. If this bill becomes law, if we, as a society, can effectively make a criminal act 'more of a crime' because of the motivations of the perpetrator, is the day too far behind us when politically incorrect thought will be criminalized as well? Many conservatives are fed up with elected officials who kowtow to the radical left. This bill is a shameless covert attempt to attack traditional values and orthodox Christianity. Please do everything in your power to defeat it. If you don't succeed, you will have a lot of people asking you tough questions you won't want to answer." 6
|The website of Concerned Women for America stated:|
"Deceptive legislation which would give special privileges and protection to homosexuals and cross-dressers has been introduced in the House by Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan). ... H.R. 1592 is a dangerous bill that would treat homosexuals as a more valuable class of citizens and threaten the constitutional rights of Americans."
"Matt Barber, Concerned Women for America's (CWA) Policy Director for Cultural Issues, said, 'H.R. 1592 represents a clear and present danger to our first liberties (freedom of speech, religion and association). 'Hate crimes' laws place us on a slippery slope toward religious persecution. These laws are already being employed as a tool in Brazil, Europe, Canada -- and even right here in America -- to intimidate and silence people who honor natural human sexuality, and who value the sanctity of marriage as between one man and one woman. If you speak out against homosexual behavior, then you are somehow guilty of 'hate speech' under the entirely subjective application of similar 'hate crimes laws'." 7
|Bob Unruh of WorldNetDaily wrote:|
"A fast-tracked congressional plan to add special protections for homosexuals to federal law would turn "thoughts, feelings, and beliefs" into criminal offenses and put Christians in the bull's-eye, according to opponents." 8
|Glen Lavy of the Alliance Defense fund wrote:|
"H.R. 1592 is a discriminatory measure that criminalizes thoughts, feelings, and beliefs [and] has the potential of interfering with religious liberty and freedom of speech. As James Jacobs and Kimberly Potter observed in 'Hate Crimes, Criminal Law, and Identity Politics,' 'It would appear that the only additional purpose [for enhancing punishment of bias crimes] is to provide extra punishment based on the offender's politically incorrect opinions and viewpoints." 8
|Bishop Harry Jackson, chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, said the plan, is no more than:|
"... a surreptitious attempt by some in Congress to strip the nation of religious freedom and the ability to preach the gospel from our church pulpits. It will stamp all over our doctrine and practice of our faith. We believe what the Bible says. If you start there we've got a major problem."
He also said that the law would unfairly restrict the expression of fair opinion by Christians:
"If anything, gays are getting undue deference awarded to them by the courts. That's why we have the same-sex marriage fight and that kind of thing. ... As an African American, I have long questioned the attempts of the homosexual community to piggy back on the legislative breakthroughs blacks have achieved in civil rights. This legislation will not just over-protect homosexuals, it will bring the threat of invasive, governmental interference with the doctrines and practice of the Church. As some homosexual activists chant, 'Stay out of our bedrooms,' we are here to say, 'Stay out of our pulpits'!" 8
|In a column titled: "Pastors: Act now or prepare for jail," Janet Folger of Faith2Action wrote:|
"I've already told you about how H.R. 1592 will destroy equal justice (setting up a victim hierarchy), set up a Gay Gestapo with unlimited funds and send grandma to jail for sharing her faith on the public sidewalk, as happened in Philadelphia. But what you may not know is how this bill scheduled for a vote in the House this week will come after pastors and all those who disagree with the homosexual agenda out loud. H.R. 1592 the so-called 'hate crimes' bill isn't about hate. It isn't about 'crimes' (there are already stiff penalties against crimes); it's about speech." 9
|Michael Marcavage of Repent America wrote:|
"H.R. 1592 is an unnecessary, unconstitutional, and un-American bill, which, with the aid of homosexual-friendly prosecutors, will be used to criminalize Christians for their thoughts, beliefs, and speech. The silence of the American church, together with the unrelenting rage of the ungodly, will soon result in the widespread incarceration of true believers. ... Christians must diligently work to revive our liberties by working to stop the homosexual agenda and its allies from pulling the plug. Otherwise, preparations should be made for the funeral, but this time without the preacher." 10
|Concerned Women for America issued a second alert:|
" 'Hate crimes' bill H.R. 1592, which is on the fast track to passage in Congress, will officially give homosexuals and cross dressers special elevated status in society based upon their chosen sexual behaviors and/or wardrobe. Under H.R. 1592, the victims at Virginia Tech would officially be considered less valuable to society than homosexuals and cross dressers who are the targets of insults, intimidation, simple assault or other 'violent acts'."
"Concerned Women for America (CWA) asks Congress to grant equal government resources, concern and respect to the victims at Virginia Tech and their families as they do to the demands of liberal homosexual activists by reaffirming the precepts of the 14th Amendment and voting NO on this dangerous and discriminatory piece of legislation." 11
|Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute, said:|
"What makes America great is its tolerance for a diversity of viewpoints-even viewpoints we may not agree with. HR 1529 is a smokescreen for stifling dissent on important issues of national debate such as sexual orientation, gender identity and religion. This so-called 'hate crime' legislation begins to lay the legal foundation and framework for investigating, prosecuting and persecuting pastors, business owners, and anyone else whose actions reflect their faith-as has already been starkly demonstrated in California, Canada, Europe and Australia. More than ever before, our society needs to heed voices of conscience-not haul them into court." 12
People for the American Way published an additional group of conservative attacks on the bill under the heading: "Lies about Religious Liberty." They wrote:
"These are just a few examples of the exaggeration, misinformation, and willful deception that make up the campaign to portray hate crime legislation as contrary to free speech or freedom of religion."
|Family Research Council President Tony
Perkins insists that the "only effect [hate crimes legislation] will truly
have is to gag people of faith and conviction who disagree with the
|Rev. Ted Pike, Director of the National
Prayer Network, called a hate crimes bill sponsored by Rep. Sheila
Jackson-Lee "the most dangerous legislation ever to come before Congress,"
and claimed that "it leads directly to an end of free speech."|
|Former judge and far-right activist Roy
Moore has claimed that "the day is rapidly approaching and perhaps is
already here when speaking out in love against sin or contending for our
faith by opposition to false religions like Islam will become criminal
|Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition makes a similar claim, asserting that, "if a pastor stands up in the pulpit and says homosexuality is a sin ... it will be considered hate speech. And if this law passes, the federal government will go after people who say those kinds of things."|
See also a comment by the Family Research Council on the bill's proposed creation of a caste system in America.
Following passage of the bill in the House, Andrea Lafferty, the executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition issued the following statement:
"A majority of the Members of the House of Representatives have slapped Christians in the face with passage of H.R. 1592. Though allegedly designed to help local law enforcement officials deal with violent hate crimes, this legislation actually creates two new federally-protected minority groups: 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' -- both of which are undefined by the law.
"This legislation strikes at the heart of free speech and freedom of religious expression. Why? Because statements critical of sexual orientation or gender identity can be prosecuted -- if those statements were part of the motivation of a person committing a crime against a homosexual or cross-dresser."
This statement contains an unusual number of errors. In reality:
|It can be argued that the law creates only one "federally protected minority groups:" the disabled.|
|The law creates three new federally protected groups that includes every American (not just a minority): gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Every American has a gender, a gender identity and a sexual orientation.|
|Gender identity is defined in the bill.|
|Cross-dressing is a sexual practice, not a gender identity.|
People for the American Way (PFAW) issued an appeal for its members to support HR 1592. They stated:
"H.R. 1592 would strengthen current federal law, making violent crimes prosecutable as hate crimes when the victim is targeted because of his or her gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. It would provide important backup where state and local authorities cannot or will not act. But the anti-gay Right has engaged in a dangerous and wholly dishonest propaganda campaign based on the absurd claim that hate crimes legislation would criminalize Christianity and free speech. NOTHING could be further from the truth."
"The purpose of this bill is to help ensure prosecution of violent crime. To emphasize that speech and religion are not threatened by the bill the House Judiciary Committee even adopted an amendment, offered by Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL), that states:
'Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution.' "
"But that hasn't stopped groups like the so-called American Family Association, which just yesterday circulated a statement saying:
'The Hate Crimes Act [sic] threatens religious leaders with criminal prosecution for their thoughts, beliefs and statements'."
"No tactics are off limits to members of the Radical Right. They are misleading the public and to Congress about the impact of this bill. We need you to call YOUR representative to counter this right-wing propaganda machine." 13,14
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
|U.S. hate-crimes statistics|
Copyright © 2007 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
First posted: 2007-APR-18
Latest update: 2009-JUN-28
Author: B.A. Robinson
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