U.S. hate crime bills/laws
Senate hate-crimes bill S. 1105: (2007):
|"Senate Bill 1105: Unnecessary, unconstitutional, ungodly" Sign at a Capitol rally on 2007-JUL-11. 1|
The existing federal hate crimes act of 1968 is limited to a narrow range of crimes and to only those hate crimes motivated by race, color, religion, or national origin. Two bills proposed in 2007 (House bill H.R. 1592 and Senate bill S. 1105) would have expand hate-crimes coverage to include physically violent crimes in which the perpetrator was motivated by hatred of the victim's sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.
The bills did not proceed, but were reintroduced in 2009.
By mid-2007, there were few comments on the Senate version of the hate-crimes bill from activist organizations. However, religious and social conservatives and liberals have been vociferous in their commentaries on the near-identical companion bill in the House: H.R. 1592.
Their concern quickly switched to the Senate version of the hate crime bill after the very similar version passed in the House.
|Typical of mainline and liberal religious groups, the Interfaith
Alliance, a group of over 30 religious organizations, strongly supported
the hate-crimes bill. |
Their president, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, said in a statement:
They released an open letter on 2007-JUL-11 signed by 1,385 clergypersons
representing over 75 different faith traditions.
|However, essentially all fundamentalist and other evangelical Christian
groups were strongly opposed to the bill. Religious conservatives appeared to be
treating the bill as a hate speech bill rather than a hate crime
At a rally in front of the Capitol building religious conservatives gathered to express concern about the bill which they believe will endanger the rights of Christians to speak about what they consider the sin of homosexuality. A long yellow banner facing the Capitol read "Homosexuality is a Sin."
|The Christian Post news service published a series of articles on the bill
|LifeSiteNews, a group that "... emphasizes the social worth of
traditional Judeo-Christian principles" 2
We are at a loss to understand their position. It is obvious after reading the bill that its provisions would only come into effect only after a violent crime has been committed. Thus, a pastor who delivered an anti-gay sermon and then picked up a baseball bat and hit a gay or lesbian member of the congregation with it could conceivably be charged with a hate crime. But simply preaching hatred of sexual minorities is a basic right guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The degree of misinformation and disinformation directed against these hate crimes bills is unprecedented in our experience. We have monitored the progress of hundreds of bills through federal, state, and (Canadian) provincial legislatures since the startup of this web site in 1995. But we have never seen a bill that has been attacked with such intensity and lack of concern for accuracy.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Copyright © 2007 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
First posted: 2007-MAY-04
Latest update: 2009-JUN-28
Author: B.A. Robinson
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