Hate Crimes Amendment Misses Mark
Special Report - October 14, 2009
The U.S. House passed a defense bill last week that includes an expansion of the federal definition of hate crimes to include crimes seemingly motivated by sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, disability, and military service. House leaders attached the provision to a $691 billion Defense Department budget bill HR 2647Department of Defense Authorization that passed 281-146 on October 8. The current federal definition of a hate crime includes race, color, religion, and national origin as possible motivating factors.
The stand-alone version of the bill passed the House in April, but stalled in the Senate. Besides establishing the new definition for a federal hate crime, the provision would authorize federal prosecution of hate crimes when local authorities do not pursue hate crime charges, and would allocate $5 million a year to the Justice Department to assist local investigations into hate crimes.
Opponents argue that adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics that can motivate hate crimes creates “thought crimes.” Many have also raised concerns over the impact such legislation could have on the free speech protections for persons (especially religious groups and leaders) who oppose homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism.
“The support and care of our brave military men and women should not be hijacked to promote policies that will chill the very freedoms they fight and sacrifice to protect,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Many crimes are committed out of hatred. We should stop focusing on the victims’ characteristics, and instead focus on stopping the perpetrators and bringing them all to justice. There are not ‘love crimes,’ or ‘hate crimes’only crime."
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.