Obama signs "hate-crimes" bill into law
The Senate approved the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act by a vote of 68-29 on Oct. 22 after Democrats strategically attached it to a "must-pass" $680 billion defense appropriations plan.
American Family Association President Tim Wildmon warned that the new law "creates a kind of caste system in law enforcement, where the perverse thing is that people who engage in non-normative sexual behavior will have more legal protection than heterosexuals. This kind of inequality before the law is simply un-American."
Wildmon said the legislation creates possible situations where pastors may be arrested if their sermons on sexuality can be linked in even the remotest way to acts of violence.
Opponents point to cases in Canada and Sweden, where Christians have faced criminal prosecution for preaching that homosexual behavior is a sin.
"ADF has clearly seen the evidence of where 'hate crimes' legislation leads when it has been tried around the world: It paves the way for the criminalization of speech that is not deemed 'politically correct,'" Stanley explained. "'Hate crimes' laws fly in the face of the underlying purpose of the First Amendment, which was designed specifically to protect unpopular speech."
Stanley said such crimes are already punishable under existing federal, state and local laws.
"Bills of this sort are designed to forward a political agenda and silence critics, not combat actual crime," he said. "The bottom line is that we do not need a law that creates second-class victims in America and that gives the government the opportunity to ignore the First Amendment."