Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
A key Senate vote during the wee hours when most Americans were asleep has added the so-called “hate crimes” plan, which creates federal protections and privileges homosexuals and others who have chosen alternative sexual lifestyles, to a defense spending bill.
While there are procedural hurdles yet, opponents say they expect the proposal that essentially makes homosexuals a protected class of citizens in the United States soon will reach the desk of President Obama, who has lobbied for it.
But the vote prompted both a warning about what a law linking criminal behavior to thought would do to free speech and a promise that the nation won’t give up its citizens’ basic rights easily.
“In six months President Obama and the Democratic-led Congress have forced on the American people the most radical and and immoral agenda,” said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The administration and the Democratic-led Congress are out of touch with the mainstream. They represent the most fringe extreme elements of America. They will not be able to continue their efforts to undermine moral values, socialize the economy and trash American pride and heritage.
“The people will not remain silent forever,” he said.
Then in a middle-of-the-night vote, senators approved 63-28 a plan to add it as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill pending, despite opposition from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
“This is a complete abdication of the responsibilities of the Judiciary Committee,” McCain said.
As WND reported, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder admitted a homosexual activist who is attacked following a Christian minister’s sermon about homosexuality would be protected by the proposed federal law, but a minister attacked by a homosexual wouldn’t be.
The revelations came from Holder’s June testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was taking comments on the proposal. The measure also was the subject of discussion on talk radio host Rush Limbaugh’s July 3 show.
“This is the question,” Limbaugh said. “(Sen.) Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) presents a hypothetical where a minister gives a sermon, quotes the Bible about homosexuality and is thereafter attacked … by a gay activist because of what the minister said about his religious beliefs and what Scripture says about homosexuality. Is the minister protected?”
No, said Holder.
“Well, the statute would not – would not necessarily cover that,” Holder stated. “We’re talking about crimes that have a historic basis. Groups who have been targeted for violence as a result of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, that is what this statute tends – is designed to cover. We don’t have the indication that the attack was motivated by a person’s desire to strike at somebody who was in one of these protected groups. That would not be covered by the statute.”
Continued Limbaugh, “In other words: ministers and whites are not covered by the hate crime statute because we’re talking about crimes that have a historic basis, groups who have been targeted for violence as a result of their skin color, sexual orientation. So hate crimes are reserved exclusively for blacks and homosexuals. Everybody else can get to the back of the bus on this one.”
WND has reported the plan would give special protections to homosexuals, essentially designating them as a “protected class.” However, it could leave Christian ministers open to prosecution should their teachings be linked to any subsequent offense, by anyone, against a homosexual person. The bill earned its nickname, “The Pedophile Protection Act,” when Rep. Steve King proposed an amendment during its trek through the U.S. House that would specify pedophiles could not use the law to protect their activities.
Majority Democrats flatly refused.
Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, told WND the move is alarming because “this would be the very first governmental and societal disapproval of a sincerely held religious belief, held by a majority of Americans, namely that homosexual behavior is immoral.
“It’s the first time the federal government is writing into law a disapproval of that belief,” he said.
While he said he doesn’t believe there will be “immediate” prosecutions of pastors and churches for teaching the biblical injunction that homosexual is sin, “I think the effect on speech and religious speech is nonetheless real.”
He said he does expect that pastors soon will begin being called to testify in “hate crime” cases in court “as to what that pastor preaches, what the church teaches, what the Bible teaches.”
“When this happens, there will be a shock wave through pastorates in America,” he said.
Ultimately, he warned that the homosexual advocates who have pushed the “hate crimes” plan consider this law just the first step “toward silencing Christians.”
That’s already documented not only with the development and application of “hate crimes” laws in other nations, but in the “hate crime” related speech codes already existing on many university campuses within the United States, Stanley said.
Staver noted the procedural hurdle still to be overcome: the fact that the “hate crimes” plan is attached to the $680 billion Defense Authorization bill that also includes funding for the F-22 jet program, which Obama opposes.
Staver also noted an amendment to the “hate crimes” measure from Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., that apparently strengthens protections for free speech and religious exercise. It was adopted 78-13 and states “hate crime” laws shall not be “applied … in a manner that infringes” the First Amendment.
“Language designed to protect speech and religion notwithstanding, the hate crimes amendment discriminates against some classes of crime victims and gives special rights based on ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity,’ including sexual fetishes and philias,” Liberty Counsel explained.
“The name of the bill itself (It’s also known as the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill) is telling. Matthew Shepard is touted by homosexual advocates as a hate crime victim, but the evidence now shows he was not targeted because he was homosexual but was killed because of a drug deal,” Liberty Counsel said.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has said such a law – by definition – requires judges to determine what those accused of crimes were thinking.
“This could create a chilling effect on religious speech, connecting innocent expression of religious belief to acts of violence against individuals afforded special protections,” he wrote. “The criminalization of religious speech, such as speech against the practice of homosexuality, has already been seen in other countries with similar hate crimes legislation in place.”
President Obama, supported strongly during his campaign by homosexual advocates, has indicated he would like to see the legislation become law.
“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.
The letter-writing effort was organized by WND columnist Janet Porter, who also heads the Faith2Action Christian ministry. It allowed citizens to send individually addressed letters to all 100 senators over their own “signature” for only $10.95.