Anti-Hate-Crime Legislation Could Target People of Faith
(CNSNews.com) - New anti-hate-crime legislation that would treat crime against homosexuals in much the same way that current law treats racially motivated crime could ultimately be used to target people of faith who are opposed to homosexuality on religious grounds, family groups warn.
"We're already seeing in certain jurisdictions the politicization of these hate crimes laws against people who oppose homosexuality and we're fearful of where this is going to lead," said Peter LaBarbera, director of the Americans for Truth Project of Kerusso Ministries.
But a provision to expand an existing federal hate crime law to include a category for "sexual orientation" - sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) - may soon be added to the Defense Authorization Bill.
President Clinton is pushing hard to expand anti-hate-crime legislation, hoping to make it part of his legacy.
Seeking to shore up support among powerful homosexual advocacy groups for Democratic presidential contender Al Gore, Clinton accused congressional Republicans Wednesday of avoiding the issue for fear it will split the party's base.
"The Republican majority does not want a bill that explicitly provides hate crimes protections for gay Americans. I think they think it will split their base or something," Clinton said at the White House.
At a luncheon fund-raiser with homosexual Democrats in Dallas, TX., Clinton said anti-hate-crime legislation is supported by most Americans and by a majority of lawmakers in both parties.
"It's just a question of whether the leadership of the Republican Party in the Congress stays to the right of the country on this issue," wire services quote Clinton as saying.
But family groups warn that federal anti-hate-crime legislation is unnecessary from a law enforcement standpoint because the crimes it targets are already covered by existing laws. Additional legislation also is potentially dangerous, those groups contend, because it could be used to silence people opposed to the homosexual agenda that is currently being promoted in some kindergartens and schools.
One kindergarten curriculum, they point out, teaches children about transsexualism and sex-change operations. Other materials, which are paid for with federal tax dollars, equate Christianity with white supremacy.
"It's logical for us to fear that hate crimes laws will be used to persecute Christians one day, because they're already saying our beliefs are hateful, just because they oppose homosexuality," LaBarbera said.
"They said Christians were responsible for the death of Matthew Shepard - when they obviously had nothing to do with it - and talk about how our rhetoric leads to people being killed. We believe hate crimes laws will be used to silence Christians and other people of faith who oppose homosexuality," he said.
Vice President Al Gore is in favor of including "sexual orientation" among the groups protected by anti-hate-crime legislation.
A spokesman for Governor George Bush, the Republican presidential nominee, said Bush believes all violent crime is hate crime, that "people who commit violent crime have hatred in their hearts." Bush supports tough anti-crime laws, as he has done in Texas, where violent crime is down 20 percent and violent crime committed by juveniles is down 38 percent.
American Renewal, a conservative public policy advocacy group, urged the Senate Wednesday to "uphold the principle of equality before the law and reject the expanded hate crimes legislation attached to an unrelated Defense Department spending authorization bill."
"There should be no first and second class crime victims in America," said Richard Lessner, vice president of AR. "The principle of equality of all Americans before the law is a well-established, sacred principle that should not be sacrificed to appease special-interest groups demanding privileged status."