Later this week the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take up consideration of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (aka the Matthew Shepard Act, and yeah, it used to be "of 2007," and yeah, that's depressing). In announcing the launch of their effort opposing the bill (their web domain is seriously "fighthatecrimes.com"), the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins issued a statement condemning the Act as limiting the free speech of those opposed to LGBT rights. It doesn't; in fact it contains specific provisions limiting the scope of the act to exclude any intrusions on a person's constitutionally protected right to free speech...but that's a whole other story.
Follow me over the fold for a moment of clarity that shows Perkins' true motivation for opposing the Act...
What "hate crimes" legislation does is lay the legal foundation and framework for investigating, prosecuting and persecuting pastors, business owners, and anyone else whose actions reflect their faith.
Got that? By equipping local law enforcement agencies with tougher tools for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes (that is, doing things that are already illegal such as beating someone to death with a fire extinguisher, but doing it because you're motivated by a bias against a specific physical characteristic of your victim), we'll be prosecuting people whose "actions reflect their faith." Wait...what? Since when do any of the mainstream faith traditions reflect a fondness for hate crimes? I'll admit that my knowledge of the Bible is limited, but "Love thy neighbor" and "Thou shalt not kill" made the Top Ten List, and "Beat thy transgendered girlfriend with a fire extinguisher" was nowhere to be found.
Is this just a Freudian slip, bad editing, or is it an attempt at a justification for hate crimes? Is Perkins really suggesting that we should tie the hands of law enforcement in investigating hate crimes because those hate crimes might be a "reflection of faith?" I won't go so far as to suggest whapping Mr. Perkins upside the head with a Bible, but if I did apparently that's not a hate crime.
Meanwhile, the Judiciary Committee takes up consideration of the Act on Wednesday. Check out the Committee membership and tell them to pass the law NOW.