Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Religious Right Sues over Hate Crimes Law

Here are excerpts from the article by CNS News with commentary.

“A conservative civil liberties group is challenging the constitutionality of the recently enacted federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.”

A hate crime is defined as a violent act directed against an individual or group purely because of some characteristic of that individual or group. Race, color, religion, ethnicity and country of origin were already covered by previous legislation; the 2009 bill extends the definition to sexual orientation and sexual identity.

“The new law, attached to a defense authorization bill that President Obama signed on October 28, 2009, makes it a federal crime to attack someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Well, sort of. What it actually does is authorize the Justice Department to extend help to jurisdictions investigating potential hate crimes, if the jurisdiction requests such help, and allows the Justice Department to pursue prosecution at the discretion of the Attorney General under certain circumstances after consultation with state authorities.

(a) The state either doesn’t have jurisdiction or chooses not to exercise jurisdiction
(b) The state requests the Federal Government to assume jurisdiction
(c) The state does not object to the Federal Government assuming jurisdiction
(d) The verdict or sentence obtained left “demonstrably unvindicated the Federal interest in eradicating bias motivated bias.”

I don’t have a problem with (a) and (b); I’m not so sure about (c) but I don’t like (d) at all. I understand the need for it though. I remember the 1950s and 1960s where getting a white man convicted in the South of a crime against a black man was virtually impossible. I guess one could argue that it’s a necessary evil but I feel uncomfortable with it.

Something else that bothers me is what the hell is this doing attached to a defense authorization bill?

“The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center says it elevates people engaged in deviant sexual behaviors to a special, protected class of persons under federal law.”

It is deviant sexual behaviors according to whom? That’s your opinion. While I’m willing to admit that the jury is still out on exactly why some small percentage of the population has its sexual wires crossed, the general indication appears to be that’s it’s about as much a choice as being left handed.

“The lawsuit naming U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of three pastors and the president of the American Family Association of Michigan.”

So the case was filed on behalf of three bigots and a loon, got it.

“All of the plaintiffs ‘take a strong public stand against the homosexual agenda, which seeks to normalize disordered sexual behavior that is contrary to Biblical teaching,’ the Law Center said in a news release.”

Actually, to be a little more accurate, it’s contrary to THEIR INTERPRETATION of “Biblical teaching.” Not everyone agrees. The last time I looked, they were entitled to their opinion but, in a secular society, what the Bible says, even if there was universal agreement on what it says, is irrelevant.

“’This is part of the list of political payoffs to homosexual advocacy groups for support of Barack Obama in the last presidential election,’ Thompson continued.”

That’s not very likely. As a matter of fact the gay faction is not at all happy with Barack and his decision to put gay issues on the back burner.

“The sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.

This is flat out not true. Section 8 of the bill specifically exempts “expressive conduct” and “activities protected by the constitution” and, the last time I looked, speech and the press were still protected. A situation that people like The Thomas More Law Center would like to amend so that everyone has to agree with what Christians say.

"It elevates those persons who engage in deviant sexual behaviors, including pedophiles, to a special protected class of persons as a matter of federal law and policy.”

This is total crap. The law does not cover “sexual behaviors” but “sexual identity” and “sexual orientation.” Pedophilia is a mental disorder and not an orientation or an identity therefore it most certainly would not be covered by the bill.

“According to the Law Center, of the 1.38 million violent crimes in the U.S. reported by the FBI in 2008, only 243 were considered to be motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation.”

Of course without the hate crimes coverage there is no particular reason to keep track at the moment so I’d take this statistic with a sack of salt.

“The lawsuit alleges that the new law violates the plaintiffs’ rights to freedom of speech, expressive association, and free exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment, and it violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment.”

As previously pointed out, all of these things are explicitly protected in section 8 of the bill. The law addresses VIOLENT CRIMES and not speech. The detailed argument here that I’ve seen is if a pastor’s sermon condemning homosexuality incites a parishioner to commit a violent act then the pastor could be prosecuted.

Allow me to suggest that the pastor might want to reconsider what he’s saying. Whatever happened to “hate the sin but love the sinner?” I guess that’s another Christian lie.

Any pastor whose sermon incites parishioners to violence SHOULD be prosecuted. Free Speech is not unrestricted. You cannot yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater and you cannot advocate violent or criminal acts.

“The lawsuit also alleges that Congress lacked authority to enact the legislation under the Tenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.”

I would hesitate to take the position that the Federal Government lacks the authority to protect its citizens from bodily harm because of some physical aspect over which they have no control.

So this is really the same old argument again. Is sexual orientation a genetic or hormonal imperative or is it a lifestyle choice?

The overwhelming majority of evidence indicates that it’s not a choice. As I said before, exactly why some people have their sexual wires crossed is unclear. Perhaps it’s nature’s way of implementing population control. I really don’t know.

I do know that there are a fairly large number of homosexuals that view the orientation as a curse and would gladly change their orientation to heterosexual if that were possible which, at least for the moment, it isn’t. The success rate of reparative therapy appears to be zero.

I wonder what would happen if someone were to figure out a way to change sexual orientation?

I suspect this law suit is going nowhere but I’ve been wrong before.

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