August 26, 2004
A Christian activist says he is not surprised that the California State Assembly passed a controversial hate crimes bill. SB 1234, which expands and redefines the state's existing hate crimes laws while increasing penalties, has been approved by both houses of the California legislature, and now goes to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature.
Randy Thomasson, executive director of the Campaign for California Families, is concerned that SB 1234, if signed into law, will be used to punish Christians for speaking out on moral issues. "The attack upon religious freedom that we see happening in America will only be accelerated by hate crime laws," he says.
"We're all against the violent crimes against persons or property," Thomasson says, "but let's punish conduct. Let's not punish thoughts."
The pro-family activist says the legislation is not only overly broad and poorly defined, but also unnecessary. He calls SB 1234 a "bad bill" that could possibly criminalize certain kinds of free speech if it is deemed potentially threatening to anyone on the law's list of specially protected groups.
For instance, Thomasson says the bill, if it becomes law in California, "could mean $2,000 in fines, six months in jail-time, and even higher civil court fines for a person outside an abortion clinic holding a sign, a protester at a political convention, or someone at a pro-family event outside a legislator's office."
Thomasson is now spearheading a campaign to encourage Governor Schwarzenegger to veto this bill. He is urging pro-family citizens to contact the governor's office and express their concerns. According to California law, if Schwarzenegger chooses not to sign SB 1234, but simply ignores it, the proposed legislation automatically becomes law. He must veto the bill in order to stop it from being enacted.
James Hartline, another California Christian activist, has joined the effort to get the governor to veto SB 1234. He also notes that in the 51-to-23 vote that resulted in the State Assembly's passing the bill, four Republicans broke ranks and supported the measure.
The Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of the new hate crime bill are Assemblymen Abel Maldonado (District 33) and Keith Richman (District 38), as well as Assemblywomen Shirley Horton (District 78) and Bonnie Garcia (District 80), both of whom are up for reelection. Hartline is advising Christian voters in these candidates' districts to abstain from voting for them in the November district elections.
Campaign for California Families (http://www.savecalifornia.com)
© 2004 Agape Press.