The House Judiciary Committee passed a “hate crimes” bill, all 23 Democrats in favor, all 17 Republicans opposed. Every Republican attempt to amend the bill was defeated. Critics call it a “thought crimes” bill.
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (H.R. 1592) would expand the federal definition of hate crimes to include violence against a person because of his or her “actual or perceived” sexual orientation or “gender identity.”
Under the bill, people who attack others out of “hatred” for their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability would be committing a federal offense.
The bill is now headed to the full House for a vote, probably next week.
Supporters of the bill, including homosexual activists, have described “hate crimes” as a pervasive problem. “The intentional selection and beating or murder of an individual because of who they are terrorizes an entire community and sometimes the nation,” the Human Rights Campaign says on its website.
But conservatives say the bill would punish “thought,” since most crimes are motivated by hatred. They say it offers special protection for certain groups.
“Despite what its advocates say, this is not about crime — it’s about special treatment,” said the Family Research Council. “HR 1592 would further carve out ‘tiers’ of victims, putting more importance on crimes committed against a Rosie O’Donnell than against her next-door neighbor.”
Others object to the idea of putting homosexuality in the same category as race, an immutable characteristic.
What about unborn babies?
The Traditional Values Coalition is among the conservative groups dedicated to the bill’s defeat. The group’s chairman, the Rev. Lou Sheldon, and CEO Andrea Lafferty watched the Judiciary Committee mark up the bill from morning to night on Wednesday, and they offered the following summary of Republican attempts to amend it.
According to TVC, Rep. Jim Jordon (R-Ohio) tried to add unborn babies to the list of protected classes included in the bill. (Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., ruled the amendment was non-germane.)
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) asked for a definition of the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” but Democrats rejected the idea.
“They obviously did not want to define gender identity to include she-male, cross-dresser, drag queen, transgender, transsexual, etc.,” said TVC Chairman Sheldon.
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) offered an amendment to include military personnel as a protected class. He noted that troops in uniform often find themselves targets of hate and physical attack.
Republicans also proposed making senior citizens a protected class, pointing to crimes against elderly people. Likewise, why not extend hate crimes protection to pregnant women, who may be battered by boyfriends or husbands when they become pregnant, Republican proposed.
Rep. Tom Feeney of Florida offered an amendment to give homeless people hate crimes protection.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) proposed an amendment protecting freedom of religion: “Nothing in this section limits the religious freedom of any person or group under the constitution,” the amendment read, but that, too, was defeated.
Conservatives, including Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Tex.), worry that religious leaders who denounce homosexuality as a sin may be charged with incitement under the legislation.
“By refusing to accept this amendment the Democrats on this committee have proven their purpose, to remove freedom of religion from the U.S. Constitution,” said Sheldon.
“It is evident what HR 1592 is about,” Sheldon added.
“It is not about homosexuals and cross dressers suffering with no food, shelter or jobs, it is about preventing Bible-believing people and pastors from speaking the truth. It is about punishing them so they will not dare to speak the truth. It is about threatening them with prison so they won’t dare speak the truth.”
Although the Republican amendments failed, TVC’s Lafferty expressed deep gratitude for the hard work of Republican committee members and their staffs for “bringing forth the truth” and trying to protect freedom of religion in this country.
The Traditional Values Coalition and the Family Research Council — among others — say all Americans should be protected equally under the law.
Jones, Susan. ‘Hate Crimes’ Bill Moving to Full House. 4/26/2007. CNSNews.com. http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200704/CUL20070426b.htm