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A bill that would provide federal money to train law enforcement officers to identify and criminally prosecute speech and thought offensive to homosexuals has been introduced into the U.S. Senate, matching a House-approved bill that critics fear will be used to crack down on biblical teachings.
The proposal, from Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy and Patrick Leahy, aligns with H.R. 1913, which was approved in the U.S. House yesterday.
It denies protections to classes of citizens such as pastors, Christians, missionaries, veterans and the elderly that would be granted to homosexuals and those with gender issues.
It it named the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act after a Wyoming homosexual who was killed in a horrific robbery and beating in 1998.
It also provides money “to improve the education and training of local officials to identify, investigate, prosecute and prevent hate crimes.”
Kennedy described “hate crimes” as “especially poisonous.”
“They are acts of domestic terrorism that target whole communities, not just individuals,” he claimed. “This bill will bring greater protection to our citizens and much-needed resources for state and local law enforcement to fight these vicious crimes.”
President Obama, supported strongly during his campaign by homosexual advocates, appears ready to respond to their desires.
“I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance,” he said.
Christians across the nation, however, have spoken with an almost unanimous voice in opposing the special designation of homosexuals and others for federal protection denied other groups of citizens.
They condemned House members who refused to provide the same protections for seniors, pregnant women and members of the military. Also rejected was an amendment that would have specified that pedophiles cannot claim any protection under the bill.
The House vote was 249-175.
Similar state laws have resulted in persecution for Christians. In Philadelphia several years ago, a 73-year-old grandmother was jailed for trying to share Christian tracts with people at a homosexual festival.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said H.R. 1913 will create “thought crimes,” and U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said it will end equality in the U.S.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, charged the plan will divide America into groups of more favored versus less. He again cited USC Title 18, Section 2a, the foundation of H.R. 1913, which says anyone who through speech “induces” commission of a violent hate crime “will be tried as a principal” alongside the active offender.
But there is no epidemic of hate in the U.S., he noted.
Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., introduced a striking argument: If Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who supports traditional marriage, had slapped the homosexual judge who derided her on the stage under H.R. 1913 she could be indicted as a “violent hate criminal,” facing a possible 10 years in prison. But, Forbes said, if the homosexual judge had slapped her, she would have had no special protection under H.R. 1913.
Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, said, “A pastor’s sermon could be considered ‘hate speech’ under this legislation if heard by an individual who then acts aggressively against persons based on ‘sexual orientation.’ The pastor could be prosecuted for ‘conspiracy to commit a hate crime'” she said.
“This Democrat-controlled Congress has now elevated pedophiles and other bizarre sexual orientations, as well as drag queens, transgenders, lesbians and gay men to the level of protection of that already given to African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities in the law,” she said.
House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the Democrats have placed a higher value on some lives compared to others, a decision he said is unconstitutional.
The bill previously failed when President Bush determined it was unnecessary – the crimes banned in the legislation already are addressed by other laws – and it probably was unconstitutional.
“The federal hate crimes bill is bad news for everyone,” said Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute, who testified in Congress against the bill two years ago.
Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel has spoken out against H.R. 1913 a number of times.
“As has proved to be true in both Europe and Canada, this Orwellian piece of legislation is the direct precursor to freedom killing and speech chilling ‘hate speech’ laws. It represents a thinly veiled effort to ultimately silence – under penalty of law – morally, medically and biblically based opposition to the homosexual lifestyle,” he said.