The nation’s largest public policy women’s group is asking President Bush to commit to a veto of a “hate crimes” plan that, as WND has reported, opponents fear would target Christians and be used to demolish both freedom of speech and religion in the United States.
“Last week the House Judiciary Committee, egged on by radical homosexual groups, passed what can only be called a Thought Crimes bill,” said former White House insider Chuck Colson in his Breakpoint commentary. “It’s called the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. But this bill is not about hate. It’s not even about crime. It’s about outlawing peaceful speech – speech that asserts that homosexual behavior is morally wrong.”
The call for the veto promise came from leaders at Concerned Women for America, who said they have written to the president with their request, because Congress is poised to approve H.R. 1592 as early as today.
“This bill would grant individuals who engaged in homosexual behavior (“sexual orientation”) or those who cross-dress (“gender identity”) preferential treatment over other citizens by elevating them to a specially protected class of victim,” the organization said.
“The 14th Amendment guarantees all citizens equal protection under the law, regardless of their chosen sexual behaviors. There is no evidence to suggest that homosexuals or cross-dresser do not receive equal protection under the law,” the CWFA said.
“Victims are – and should be – treated equally in the justice system, regardless of their ‘sexual orientation.’ This ‘hate crimes’ bill would overturn this balance, creating second-class victims and a federal justice system that discriminates against grandmothers, children, women and men simply because they are heterosexual,” said CWFA President Wendy Wright.
“We cannot imagine that President Bush would sign a bill that would create a two-tiered justice system that discriminates against grandmothers,” she said.
“Some say we need this law to prevent attacks on homosexuals. But we already have laws against assaults on people and property,” Colson continued. “Moreover, according to the FBI, crimes against homosexuals in the United States have dropped dramatically in recent years. In 2005, out of 863,000 cases of aggravated assault, just 177 cases were crimes of bias against homosexuals…”
He noted, as WND earlier reported, that in other locations, such as England, Sweden, Canada, and even Philadelphia, where similar laws have been approved, the “Thought Police” already have prosecuted Christians.
In Philadelphia, a grandmother was hauled to jail and threatened with 47 years in prison for proclaiming her Christianity on a public street.
One Philadelphia woman, Arlene Elshinnawy, 75, and grandmother of three, was holding a sign: “Truth is hate to those who hate the truth,” before she was hauled off by police officers.
“If this dangerous law passes, pastors who preach sermons giving the biblical view of homosexuality could be prosecuted. Christian businessmen who refuse to print pro-gay literature could be prosecuted. Groups like Exodus International, which offer therapy to those with unwanted same-sex attraction, could be shut down,” Colson warned. “In classic 1984 fashion, peaceful speech will be redefined as a violent attack worthy of punishment.”
He said that’s known because during debate over the plan, U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., offered an amendment to assure that the law would not be used to limit the religious freedom of any person or group, and majority Democrats on the committee refused it.
“It also refused to adopt amendments protecting other groups from hate crimes – like members of the military, who are often targets of verbal attacks and spitting. They also shot down amendments that would protect the homeless and senior citizens … Nothing doing, the committee said – the only group they wanted to protect: homosexuals.”
“Clearly, the intent of this law is not to prevent crime, but to shut down freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of thought,” he said.
Matt Barber, CWA’s policy director for cultural issues, said such narrow focus by Democrats makes clear “the exclusionary and discriminatory nature of this bill.”
The concerns also were echoed by Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth.
“This is really about getting the heavy hand of the federal government in promoting homosexuality as a ‘civil right,'” he said.
Observers at the committee debate over the bill noted that nowhere in the bill are the terms “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” defined, but Democrats declined to even include that in the proposal.
Rev. Ted Pike, of The National Prayer Network, said reality needs to be faced.
“Not only do pro-hate bill Democrats have 34 more votes than the Republicans, but at least several dozen Republicans are probably committed to vote for the hate bill. This means that in order to even have a tie in the House more than 55 members would have to cancel their pledge to vote for the hate bill. Not a good possibility,” he said.
However, the Senate is different.
“The pro-hate bill forces may have as many as 65 votes, more than the 60 necessary to win. This includes about 14 Republicans; but if six Republicans are dissuaded from supporting the hate bill, [the plan] will not pass. The federal hate bill would be destroyed, at least for this session of Congress,” he said.
Glen Lavy, of the Alliance Defense Fund, earlier wrote to Congress warning the plan would criminalize thoughts and beliefs.
“This is a terrible thing, to criminalize thought or emotion or even speech,” Lavy told WND.
And Bishop Harry Jackson, chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, said the plan, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Protection Act of 2007, is no more than “a surreptitious attempt by some in Congress to strip the nation of religious freedom and the ability to preach the gospel from our church pulpits.”
“It will stamp all over our doctrine and practice of our faith,” he said. “We believe what the Bible says. If you start there we’ve got a major problem.”
WND columnist Janet Folger earlier warned in a commentary called “Pastors: Act now or prepare for jail,” that in New Hampshire, a crime that typically carries a sentence of 3 1/2 years was “enhanced” to 30 years because a robber shouted an anti-homosexual name at his victim.
Folger’s organization, Faith2Action, is the group that was launched the ads about Philadelphia grandmothers who were thrown in jail in Pennsylvania under that state’s “hate crimes” law.
The proposal is by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the head of the House Judiciary Committee.
Pike said technically, the proposal would make it “federally indictable to ‘…attempt to…intimidate’ a homosexual from believing that he (even if he has AIDS or hepatitis) has the right to work in a restaurant, be employed as a police officer or summer camp counselor, or has equal rights to housing and employment anywhere he wishes.”
“A pastor, Christian broadcaster or publisher who verbally attempts to ‘intimidate’ homosexuals by describing homosexuality as an abomination (Lev. 18:22) are thus high-profile targets for indictment under this legislation,” he said.
He said the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has been leading the charge for such crime bills for years, and has explained on its website how its campaign already has installed laws at the state level.
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