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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill

I saw in the news that the U.S. House passes "hate crime" bill that Bush opposed .... classifying as "hate crimes" those attacks based on a victim's sexual orientation, gender identity or mental or physical disability. The current law, enacted four decades ago, limits federal jurisdiction over hate crimes to assaults based on race, color, religion or national origin.

As you would expect, the "usual suspects" are against the hate crimes bill, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act - the Republicans GOP Hysterical Over Hate Crimes Bill Because It Would Protect Gay People, and of course, the religious right, like the Catholic League and others (Hate Crimes Bill Heads for Vote Amid Mixed Christian Reactions).

But I'm happy to say that some Christians do support the bill (Christian Leaders: Hate Crimes Bill Is Necessary, Moral), including Jim Wallis of Sojourners, who wrote ....

A fundamental Christian belief is that every person is created in the image of God. Too often in our country when violence has been directed against gay and lesbian people, most Christians have been painfully silent. The hate crimes legislation now in the House is designed to strengthen our society's ability to prosecute these crimes. It contains additional explicit protection for free speech and religious liberty, rights which are already guaranteed by our Constitution, and allows for continued free expression of speech about controversial issues around homosexuality, gay marriage, etc. Regardless of the theological differences we may have on these issues, Christians should all agree on the fundamental protection of human rights. That is why I support this legislation.


Blogger Liam said...

Note to the Catholic League: Go away, please, just go away.

The usual attack on Hate crimes legislation of any kind is that it penalizes thought, and is this somehow Orwellian. They seem to forget that the differences between various charges possible for killing someone has a lot to do with what one is thinking. If I'm driving too fast, lose control, and then run someone over, that's manslaughter. If I plan to run someone over, that's murder 1.

1:41 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Yes, they bring up the religious freedom thing, the freedom to be bigots, I guess. And that freedom is still preserved - there are no thought police uet :). What will the Church do when there's no group left for them to demonize?

Sorry - I'm in a bad mood today :)

2:49 PM  
Blogger Liam said...

The religious freedom angle is seriously dumb. If you kill or hurt someone because he or she is gay, that's an aggravating factor. It has nothing to do with mainstream religion or its approval or disapproval of homosexuality.

Bill Donahue is the crown prince of stupid. He has no right to speak for the rest of us. He should make it clear that he only represents a part of the Church. Perhaps he should rename his organization "The League of Hysterical Right-wing Bigoted Dumb***t Catholics" to distinguish them from the rest of us.

It gets me in a bad mood as well.

3:16 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

I think Meg commented once that in Canada, there was a concern that the Catholic Church might be thought of as inspiring hate crimes under their law, givne the Church's stance on same-sex stuff. So I guess I can see where the the consefvatives are going with their take on this, but still.

4:14 PM  
Blogger victor said...

Killing is wrong and as far as I'm concern anyone who takes a life will need to answer for "IT" in Hell someday so I hope they've got a good Lawyer and I didn't say liar.

Wow! You're UPSET too Victor! :)

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Joe Ratzinger said...

The hate crime bill will be misused by whomever is in power. When we get another right wing government, it will be a hate crime to speak against Catholics. In England it is a hate crime to speak against Muslims. Many Jews have been persecuted in England.

2:39 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


Thanks for taking the time to comment - I know how busy you must be with the Holy Land trip and all :) I disagree with your take on the hate crimes bill, but I guess almost anything can be misused.

3:12 PM  

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