Hate Crime Debate Heats Up As Vote Nears

Conservatives and liberals alike are gearing up for this week’s scheduled House vote on HR 1592 aka the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act aka The Matthew Shepard Act.

Simply put, the hate crimes bill will allow federal agents help local officials investigate racist, heterosexist violent crimes. If convicted, assailants could face harsher penalties, thus sending a judicial message: hate don’t pay.

A number of conservative, notably Christian, organizations have come out against the bill, calling H.R. 1592 grant gays “special rights” and an assault on religious freedom. Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. concurs:

This bill will offer a status for gays, lesbians and transgender people under the equal protection status that can muzzle the black church. This law can be applied in the way that can keep the church from preaching the Gospel.

You may recall The Family Research Council insists the bill amounts to nothing more than anti-Christian thought policing.

The conservative group also highlights the fiscal aspects of political faggotry:

Under this legislation if a man who defines himself as bisexual is attacked it will automatically be assumed the local authorities are inadequate and he will have access to millions of federal dollars to help in the investigation. In contrast, if a member of the military or a pregnant woman is attacked they have no federal outlet to turn to. I wholeheartedly condemn violence against anyone, but if all Americans are to be treated equally this caste system cannot be allowed to become law.

Oh sweet Jesus – a soldier or a pregnant woman? These people know which strings to pull.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a culture war without some words from the gay activists. And who else but Human Rights Campaign’s Joe Solmonese, who delivers his message in video form. Very 21st century:
Joe’s right when he points out that religious organizations have been protected for decades. H.R. 1592 does not threaten religious expression, nor does it target religious institutions. Although, some people – notably conservatives – claim H.R. 1592 doesn’t really do anything. From National Review:

There is no evidence that adding hate-crimes laws on top of regular criminal laws does anything to deter these acts. Nor is there any evidence that federal action is needed. Most states already have hate-crimes laws… There is no evidence that local law enforcement has a special need for federal resources to help it combat hate crimes.

Evidence or not, H.R. 1592, the hate crimes bill, the Matthew Shepard bill – whatever you want to call it – acts primarily as a symbol. Not a law.

If passed, H.R. 1592 will tell the nation – regardless of race, religion, sexuality – that the federal government promises to offer gay citizens the same security, protection and inclusion it allows others. It’s really the least they could do, considering that whole marriage thing. But, that’s just our opinion.

Since America’s a democracy, you folks have a voice. We must endorse Equality Ohio’s call:

Please call the House of Representatives at (202) 224-3121 today and ask to be connected to your Representative. Urge them to vote for the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1592).

That number, again, is (202) 224-3121. If you want The House to pass the multi-named bill, give your representative a ringer. If not…well, you should call them, too. Don’t want to cramp anyone’s style…

Conservative Black Pastors Fight Bill on Hate Crimes [Washington Post]
House panel OKs hate crimes bill [Baptist Press]