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U.S. hate crime bills/laws

2007 House hate-crimes bill H.R. 1592
Who would be protected by the bill?

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Proposed federal hate crimes legislation:

H.R. 1592, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (LLEHCPA), 1 if passed into law, would update the federal hate crimes act of 1968. That act has applied to only those hate crimes motivated by "race, color, religion or national origin." 1 LLEHCRA would expand hate-crimes coverage to include physically violent crimes in which the perpetrator was motivated by hatred of the victim's "... race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability." 1

One opinion: everyone is is protected by the bill:

The bill covers violent crime that was motivated by hatred of the victim's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

So, every person that has a:

bulletSexual orientation, whether they are heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual;
bulletGender, whether they are male or female or, we assume, intersexual;
bulletRace and skin color -- two terms whose definition lack consensus;
bulletReligion, whether they consider themselves to be Agnostic, Atheist, Christian, Humanist, Jew, Muslim, secularist, Wiccan, etc., or
bulletNational origin, whether born in the U.S., or a naturalized citizen, permanent resident or visitor from another country,

would be protected by this bill. Since everyone is a member of each of these classifications, then everyone is protected five times over.

Two additional categories require more explanation:

bulletGender identity is another protected class. It is defined in the bill as "actual or perceived gender-related characteristics." AllPsych Online defines it as:

"The internal sense of being either male or female. Usually congruent with biological gender, but not always as in Gender Identity Disorder." 2

The vast majority of adults feel that their biological/genetic gender is the same as how they feel their gender to be. That is, a person who is biologically and genetically female almost always feels themselves to be a female. However, a small minority of persons, commonly referred to as transgender, are different. For example, some believe that they are a female trapped in a male body. The definition in this bill would seem to apply to both those whose biological/genetic gender is the same as their internal sense, and those for whom the two differ. That is, everyone is covered by this category.

bulletDisability: Some hate crimes victimize persons because they are disabled. But, a person without disabilities could conceivably be attacked because they are not disabled. Thus, it could be argued that the category of "disability" includes everyone: able-bodied and disabled.

In summary, every American falls into all seven of the protected categories, without exception.

That said, there are some missing categories: age, height, body mass index, employment status, disfigurement, etc. A more complete bill would protect these additional categories. However, at least H.R. 1592 is a start.

A second opinion: people are not equally protected:

The Family Research Council stated in their 2007-MAY-02 mailing titled "Family Values or the Liberal Status Quo?" that people are unequally protected:

"This bill creates a caste system within American society where those who fit a certain category - ranging from race, disability, gender to sexual orientation and transgender - would be seen as deserving special legal protection. The bill is most notable for the millions of Americans it leaves out, meaning if you or I are a victim of a violent crime - we matter less."

The vast majority of statements on this bill by religious conservatives seem to imply that the main group that would be protected by the bill are homosexuals. The Family Research Council is to be commended by being almost accurate and complete in their description of the categories covered by the bill. They mentioned: "race, disability, gender. ... sexual orientation and transgender." Only the last is wrong. transgender folks are not mentioned in the bill. Persons of all "gender identities" are. That category includes transgender and non-transgender persons -- that is, everyone.

Apparently, the author of that mailing believes that some Americans, including the author and the reader, are not the member of a race, have no gender, no sexual orientation, no gender identity and no disability status. But, the last time we looked, most Americans regard themselves as being a member of a race or blend of races. All have a gender, a sexual orientation, a gender identity, and is either able-bodied or disabled. So, it is not clear which Americans are left out. 3

We asked for a clarification from the Family Research Council on 2007-MAY-03. They never responded.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "H.R. 1582," text, at: http://thomas.loc.gov/
  2. "Psychology Dictionary: E-J," AllPsych Online, at: http://allpsych.com/
  3. "Family values or the liberal status quo?," Mailing, Family Research Council, 2007-MAY-02.

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Copyright © 2007 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2007-APR-05
Latest update: 2009-JUN-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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