Last Chance to Stop Hate Crimes Bill
The years-long battle over hate crimes legislation is entering its most critical hour. Both the House and Senate have passed such bills, which threaten to criminalize thought against homosexuality, while granting homosexual victims of violent crimes a preferred place under the law. Now congressional liberals, armed with the homosexual lobby, are hoping to prevail with final negotiations and votes necessary to send the dangerous measure to the White House for a signing victory.
The last chance to stop hate crimes legislation—a grave threat to the religious speech of Christians—from becoming the law of the land is upon us.
This week, a House-Senate conference committee is expected to hammer out differences on a military-funding authorization bill, with liberals intent on including the hate crimes measure as part of the package. In July, the Senate passed its version of the hate crimes bill (S. 909) as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill; in April, the House gave hearty approval to a stand-alone hate crimes measure (H.R. 1913), separate from the defense bill.
Contrary to supporters’ arguments, this proposed hate crimes law is not about equal protection. It is about special protection for homosexuals and transgenders on the basis of “actual or perceived” sexual orientation or gender identity that others who suffer identical acts of violence do not receive.
No one should engage in an act of violence against someone because of that person’s sexual orientation, but neither should anyone be prosecuted because of their religious beliefs about homosexuality. Yet that is what is at stake under a federal hate crimes law. The freedom for pastors and Sunday School teachers to preach and teach the biblical truth about homosexuality hangs in the balance.
While the Senate-adopted hate crimes bill includes an amendment offered by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) to protect pastors and others as long as their speech is not intended to incite an act of violence against homosexuals, the protection is not a cure-all for Christians. Pastors still could face government scrutiny and be forced to prove their innocence. Nor is there any guarantee that the Brownback amendment will be included in the final bill, should Congress agree to include a hate crimes measure in the defense bill.
Congress traveled this road once before. In the previous Congress, the House and Senate followed this year’s legislative path, only to drop the hate crimes legislation from the defense bill in the face of a veto threat from then-President George W. Bush. But this is a new season with a new man in the Oval Office. President Obama is one of the hate crimes bill’s strongest allies.
The potential erosion of religious liberty and the special protected status conferred under a hate crimes law demands our every effort to press for the bill’s defeat. That hour is now.
If you agree, please urge your representative and senators to oppose the Defense Authorization bill if it includes hate crimes legislation. The Senate committee conferees for the defense bill have been named. If one of your senators is among them, listed below, he or she especially needs to hear from you.
Sen. Daniel Akaka (HI): (202) 224-6361
Sen. Evan Bayh (IN): (202) 224-5623
Sen. Mark Begich (AK): (202) 224-5623
Sen. Roland Burris (IL): (202) 224-2854
Sen. Robert Byrd (WV): (202) 224-3954
Sen. Kay Hagan (NC): (202) 224-6342
Sen. Carl Levin (MI): (202) 224-6221
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (CT): (202) 224-4041
Sen. Claire McCaskill (MO): (202) 224-6154
Sen. Ben Nelson (NE): (202) 224-6551
Sen. Bill Nelson (FL): (202) 224-5274
Sen. Jack Reed (RI): (202) 224-4642
Sen. Mark Udall (CO): (202) 224-5941
Sen. Jim Webb (VA): (202) 224-4024
Sen. Richard Burr (NC): (202) 224-3154
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (GA): (202) 224-3521
Sen. Susan Collins (ME): (202) 224-2523
Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC): (202) 224-5972
Sen. James Inhofe (OK): (202) 224-4721
Sen. John McCain (AZ): (202) 224-2235
Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL): (202) 224-4124
Sen. John Thune (SD): (202) 224-2321
Sen. David Vitter (LA): (202) 224-4623
Sen. Roger Wicker (MS): (202) 224-4024