May 28, 2004
A controversial hate crimes bill has been resurrected on Capitol Hill -- this time under Republican leadership. The Culture and Family Institute (CFI) says the legislation is being pushed by the homosexual lobby, which is emboldened following the court-ordered legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.
Two U.S. Senate Republicans have introduced the new legislation, the language of which is virtually the same as that in an earlier attempt by liberal lawmakers to put a hate crimes law on the books -- an effort that was defeated. However, this newly introduced bill would attach "sexual orientation" to the language of the previous bill.
CFI director Bob Knight believes conservatives need to be wary about the proposal. "Even though this bill is sponsored by Gordon Smith and Orrin Hatch -- both Republicans -- it's really the old Kennedy hate crimes bill that's been resurrected. And it's a very dangerous bill, because it adds 'sexual orientation' to hate crimes law, and it greatly expands federal jurisdiction," Knight says.
Also, the pro-family spokesman is concerned that the proposed law would require law enforcers to give priority to investigating and prosecuting crimes against homosexuals. "So if your grandmother is mugged," he posits for example, "it won't be a big deal, and the law enforcement authorities may have to put more of their revenues toward the mugging, say, of a homosexual guy walking down the street. Now both deserve protection, but certainly the gay guy doesn't deserve more than your grandmother."
Another major worry is that the hate crimes bill proposed by Smith and Hatch, if passed, will put the First Amendment rights of Christians at risk, making them subject to prosecution simply for expressing biblical views about the homosexual lifestyle. Knight notes that such a bill has already been approved by lawmakers in Canada, where he fully expects it to "muzzle public discussion of homosexuality and even someday silence pastors."
Current Canadian federal law forbids anyone from publishing materials or speaking in any way that could result in the "incitement of hatred and genocide" against certain specified groups. By adding "sexual orientation" to that list, Knight says Canada's lawmakers may have set up grounds for prosecuting anyone who criticizes homosexuality. And that is what he fears may happen in the U.S. if the legislation proposed by Smith and Hatch is approved.
The Canadian bill does contain a religious exemption in the "hate speech" section of Canada's Criminal Code. But in a recent news release, the Christian Coalition Inc. of Canada (CCIC) noted that the exemption places the burden of proof on the accused and is too vague and open to interpretation to serve as an adequate defense against charges of hate speech.
In a disturbing example of the implications of this bill, CCIC cited a Saskatchewan court case in which the Bible was determined to be hate literature. There, the Canadian court upheld a fine against a Saskatoon newspaper publisher and a man who placed an ad listing Bible verses about homosexuality.
Knight says the logical next step in the process of advancing hate crime legislation in America will be to criminalize free speech and thought. Should U.S. lawmakers pass a hate crimes bill that includes sexual orientation, he fears it will be used to give homosexuals special status as a protected group, while Christians' who express biblical views against the homosexual lifestyle end up as "fair game."
Culture and Family Institute (http://www.cultureandfamily.org)
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