Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series on the homosexual rights movement’s current political agenda. In Part 1, WorldNetDaily looks at homosexual activists’ intense push for “hate crimes” legislation — and at the groundswell of opposition to it.
A growing political rebellion against “hate crimes” legislation contends such bills are not so much intended to discourage criminal acts as they are to suppress and criminalize people’s thoughts, beliefs and speech regarding homosexuality.
Proponents of the “Hate Crimes Prevention Act” were stunned and dismayed last Wednesday by the defeat of the legislation in the U.S. Senate. Had it been approved, the bill would have extended current federal “hate crimes” legislation to include sexual orientation. Homosexual activists are condemning the Senate’s Republican leadership and pledging an even stronger push for passage when Congress reconvenes.
“The GOP Senate leadership’s antipathy towards gay and lesbian Americans apparently runs so deep that they were able to callously turn their back on hate crime victims and their families, even as statistics show that hate crimes are on the rise,” said Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based homosexual advocacy organization.
“These unconscionable efforts to derail hate crime legislation will be remembered as a shameful chapter in this nation’s history,” she said.
The HRC had worked hard on the legislation, including a Nov. 8 press conference featuring the parents of Matthew Shepard — the young homosexual man killed in Wyoming — as well as law enforcement officers from Wyoming who supported the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
An HRC spokesman, Wayne Besen, told WorldNetDaily a “hate crimes” law protecting homosexuals is needed because of the increase in the incidences of crimes committed against homosexuals and other minority groups. Defining a “hate crime” as one that targets a certain group, says Besen, such a crime is “aimed to send a message to an entire group of people … it is a domestic act of terrorism … not a random crime.”
Forty-two states currently have “hate crime” laws, but only 22 include sexual orientation. Besen says a federal law would be a much-needed tool for law enforcement officers at the state and local level.
Besen insists “hate crimes” legislation only targets people’s illegal actions, not their underlying beliefs. “People can say what they want, they can think what they want. But if they act on it, they are creating an act of domestic terrorism to a group … then it becomes a hate crime.”
Not so, Robert Knight, head of the Cultural Studies department at the Family Research Council. “Hate crime” legislation does indeed target thoughts and speech, he says, and if passed would provide special protected status for homosexuals. He notes that there are already laws on the books against violent actions against persons — including homosexuals — but that “hate crimes” legislation provides penalty enhancements against the perpetrator’s thoughts and beliefs.
“The only thing that hate crime laws target are thoughts,” says Knight. “It’s really an attack on free speech.”
Currently, “hate crimes” are reported annually by the FBI in its crime statistics report. According to Knight, of the more than 8,000 “hate crimes” listed, about half are cases of intimidation — not physical attack or property damage. He notes that in 1997, FBI statistics indicated that “hate crimes” comprised one-tenth of one percent of all violent and property crimes, less than one case per law enforcement agency.
He predicts, however, that the category of intimidation is going to become more and more elastic. In fact, says Knight, the category of intimidation “will eventually lead to charges of incitement to hate crimes. A pastor speaking out on homosexuality in a town where there might be an assault on a homosexual, may one day be charged with inciting that assault.” The pastor might also be charged with intimidation by creating a hostile atmosphere toward homosexuals.
Wired Strategies, a homosexual political website operated by John Aravosis, maintains a section on “hate speech” by religious right organizations. Aravosis maintains that anti-homosexual speech is the root of violence and even murder against homosexuals.
He notes, “If words do not inspire actions, then why did the top religious right organizations spend $500,000 on an ad campaign to inspire gays to ‘convert’? They know words have consequences, and their words are nothing less than the subjugation and dehumanization of gay and lesbian Americans. While most of the far right don’t preach violence, it is no wonder that decades of their disdain eventually led to murder.”
Aravosis is referring to the Truth in Love television ad campaign sponsored by the ex-homosexual ministry Exodus International and a coalition of other ministries focused on the homosexual lifestyle. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) contacted various TV stations and convinced station managers not to run the ads.
According to Besen, GLAAD simply presented the facts to the station managers and convinced them that this was a health-care issue, not a free speech issue. GLAAD proved to the managers that messages on homosexual change “cause anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behaviors, including suicide,” said Besen, who added the stations don’t run ads for cigarettes or asbestos, so why would they run ads that make people commit suicide?
In testimony before the Senate on hate crimes legislation last May, Knight discussed the Truth in Love campaign:
“Last year’s Truth in Love advertising campaign, in which former homosexuals gave the good news that all people are loved by God and have the hope of salvation and that homosexual behavior can be changed, was blamed for Matthew Shepard’s murder, despite zero evidence that the perpetrators had ever seen the ads or been influenced by them in any way. … If an undiluted message of love is considered grounds for charges of complicity in murder, then we have moved far down the road toward silencing anyone who holds to traditional morality. In Canada, it is already a federal offense to criticize homosexuality over the airwaves. The hate crimes bill paves the way in America for similar throttling of opinion.”
Still, Besen says a federal “hate crime” law will not threaten anyone’s freedom of speech or thought. He notes that of the 22 states having sexual orientation included in their “hate crime” laws, “To the best of my knowledge there’s not been a limitation on speech or thought. It’s a false argument.”
Stephen M. Crampton, chief counsel for the American Family Association’s Center for Law & Policy, is concerned about the far-reaching implications of “hate crime” laws. “First of all,” says Crampton, “the focus in criminal law has always been actions — the taking of an innocent human life. Premeditation is considered as an evidentiary matter — it distinguishes, for example, between murder and manslaughter.” He notes that “hate crime” laws go a step further. “Hate crime laws actually delve one step deeper into a suspect’s mind: They criminalize what a person thinks about a homosexual in the commission of a crime. While hatred for anyone may be abhorrent, it is not illegal.”
An FRC study, titled “The other side of ‘tolerance:’ Victims of homosexual activism,” documents dozens of cases of individuals or organizations being harassed or intimidated due to their opposition to the homosexual rights movement. Examples:
- Madison, Wisconsin firefighter Ron Greer nearly lost his job for giving his colleagues a tract entitled, “The truth about homosexuality.” He was suspended and ordered to attend diversity training for violating the city’s anti-discrimination code.
- Betty Sabatino, a personal trust administrator at the Texas Commerce Bank in San Antonio was fired for questioning her company’s policy on homosexuality.
- Debra Kelly, a former hospice worker in Philadelphia was fired for expressing her Christian beliefs about homosexuality. Her supervisor, a supporter of ACT-UP, a militant homosexual group, said Kelly was intolerant and was unsuited for her position.
- Jerry Schultz, a Long Beach, California city councilman spoke out against “domestic partnerships” and was labeled a “gay basher” in the newspapers. According to Schultz, “Most of my colleagues who spoke after me lambasted me for my hateful and hurtful words. While not denying that my words were accurate, they felt that I didn’t have the right to speak them.”
- When Washington state activists attempted to gather signatures to overturn a homosexual rights ordinance, they were harassed by homosexual “Bigot Busters,” who would surround the signature gatherers and yell “bigot” or “Nazi.”
The Lambda Legal Defense and Educational Fund urges homosexual activists not only to lobby for passage of “hate crimes” legislation, but also encourages them to work to change anti-homosexual attitudes within the public schools.
“Those who commit hate crimes develop their anti-gay attitudes at a young age, and can feel encouraged toward violence if they see prejudice tolerated all around them,” says Lambda. “To build a society that includes fewer of these sick individuals, we need good anti-violence and anti-bigotry programs in all public schools, along with curricula that include accurate information about sexual orientation, the history of the gay rights movement, and lesbian and gay role models.”
Lambda also observes, that “any proposal for passing or amending a hate crimes law to include sexual orientation should go hand-in-hand with a broader prevention package. We must not let the federal or state governments off the hook with a largely symbolic, after-the-fact remedy. Let’s also make them adopt strong and sweeping prevention initiatives that can eventually end hate crimes by striking at their roots.”
In Part 2, WorldNetDaily examines the various anti-violence and tolerance programs currently being used in the nation’s public schools to foster tolerance and affirmation of the homosexual lifestyle.