Washington, DC - The so-called "hate crimes" legislation took a new form yesterday when Senators Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) introduced the controversial amendment to a Defense Reauthorization bill. This move will could push senators to vote on the issue as early as this week.
Introduced as the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Kennedy amendment is one of more than 100 amendments attached to the Defense Reauthorization bill. An ABC 20/20 investigation showed that the Matthew Shepard murder, portrayed by activists as a hate crime because Shepard was homosexual, was in fact a bungled robbery that had nothing to do with Shepard's homosexuality.
Hate crimes laws are actually "thought crimes" laws that violate the right to freedom of speech and of conscience and subject individuals to scrutiny of their beliefs rather than focusing on a person's criminal actions. Hate crimes laws will have a chilling effect on people who have moral or religious objections to homosexual behavior. Evidence of a person's beliefs will be used against any individuals who are even suspected of committing a crime. In a debate on a similar bill that passed the House in May, Rep. Artur Davis, who supported the bill, admitted that under this law a minister could be charged with the crime of incitement if the minister preached that homosexuality is a serious sin and a person in the congregation left church and committed a crime against a homosexual. Liberty Counsel has published a legal memo that explains the dangers of hate crimes legislation.
The White House called this bill "unnecessary" and "constitutionally questionable," pointing out that "State and local criminal laws already provide criminal penalties for the violence addressed by the new Federal crime." President Bush has promised to veto the bill.
Hate Crimes legislation that includes sexual orientation is bad law because it criminalizes speech and does nothing to prevent violent crimes. All crimes are motivated by hate. Hate Crimes laws will not be used to punish the perpetrator, but will be used to silence people of faith, religious groups, clergy, and those who support traditional moral values.