Congressional Quarterly is reporting a defense reauthorization bill could come up for a vote as early as today, with a “hate crimes” provision that would apply penalties for politically incorrect “thoughts” still attached.
So a family organization is urging people to call their representatives to express their concern.
“Given the urgency and importance of these issues please help the House and Senate negotiators by calling members and urging them to remove this provision,” said an alert from the Family Research Council.
“Tell them it should be removed because the provision is not germane to the national defense of this country. Most importantly, tell them that the provision should be removed because it runs counter to our country’s bedrock principles of free speech and thought.”
Congressional Quarterly said the fiscal 2008 defense authorization could come out of a conference committee this week. The plan has been approved by both the U.S. House and the Senate but in different versions. The disputes all have been resolved except one issue – “whether to include a Senate amendment expanding race-based hate-crime laws to include crimes committed against people because of their gender, sexual orientation or disability.”
But the plan actually could do a great deal more than that.
The plan was H.R. 1592 by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and is feared by opponents, as WND has reported, as a means to target Christians and to demolish both freedom of speech and religion in the United States. It would allow enhanced prosecution for crimes motivated by “hate,” including the perception of gender or gender identity.
It later was wrapped up as an amendment and added to the defense authorization, which means if approved it would force President Bush, who has expressed an inclination to veto such plans, to decide between funding U.S. troops and accepting the “hate crimes” plan, or vetoing both.
The White House said state and local criminal laws already provide penalties for the violence addressed by the new federal crime defined in the bill, and many carry stricter penalties than the proposed language.
“State and local law enforcement agencies and courts have the capability to enforce those penalties and are doing so effectively. There has been no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement…” the White House statement said.
FRC said the fine print of the plan is alarming.
“The definition is broadened to include sexual orientation among the protected classes, elevating sexual attraction to the status of race and creed. Those who can be found culpable have also been expanded to include not only those who commit the crime but those who may have unknowingly ‘inspired’ those actions. For example, a pastor can be considered legally culpable if he preaches against the homosexual agenda and a member of his congregation subsequently commits a crime against a homosexual. Thus, the act against the homosexual is considered a crime, as it should be, but so also is the thought against the agenda or conduct,” the organization said.
“Liberals have deviously inserted this provision in the Defense Appropriations bill. If conservative negotiators are unsuccessful in excising this provision from the bill then President Bush will be forced to do one of two things. First, he could veto the bill, which would then cause delays in funding our troops in Iraq. Second he could sign the bill to ensure the troops receive their funds, but have the unfortunate outcome of granting the new hate crimes provision the force of law,” the FRC said.
Ted Pike, of the National Prayer Network, said if Bush signs the bill, he would “also sign away our freedom of speech.”
Michael Marcavage, of Repent America, says his organization has members who were jailed for proclaiming their Christian beliefs on public streets in Philadelphia, because of ordinances similar to the planned “hate crimes” bill.
And former White House insider Chuck Colson, in his Breakpoint commentary, has called it a “Thought Crimes” plan.
“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,” he said.
Leaders at Concerned Women for America had asked the White House for the veto promise.
“Victims are – and should be – treated equally in the justice system, regardless of their ‘sexual orientation,'” said CWFA President Wendy Wright. “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.”
Colson noted, as WND earlier reported, in other locations, such as England, Sweden, Canada, and even Philadelphia, where similar laws have been approved, the “Thought Police” already have prosecuted Christians.
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.
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