By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 17, 2009 ( – U.S. Representative Barney Frank announced Thursday that the House Judiciary Committee will be considering hate crimes legislation, H.R. 1913, this coming week of April 20. Frank is expecting the committee to pass the bill and send it to the House to vote on later this spring, according to a news release issued by Rep. Frank last week.

H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, would add sexual orientation to the list of categories covered under federal hate crime law and would expand federal power to investigate hate crimes.  The bill was first introduced into the House on April 2 by U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D – Mich.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

“The law already increases penalties for crimes motivated by hatred in several categories, so the absence of protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people is particularly egregious,” commented Frank in his release. 

President Obama has expressed eagerness to place sexual orientation discrimination on a par with that of religion and race, and pledged his support for the earlier incarnation of the bill.

Identical to the Matthew Shepard Act of 2007, H.R. 1913 has alarmed conservatives on Capitol Hill and across the country who are decrying the outcome of similar laws in countries such as Canada and England, where it has hamstrung free expression of fundamental moral and Christian values.

The Family Research Council (FRC) is promoting a petition against the bill (

“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,” wrote Tony Perkins, president of the FRC, in an email to constituents.  Perkins noted that, in a similar hearing last Congress, Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) admitted that pastors could be arrested for hate crimes under the legislation.

“All freedom loving Americans must voice their opposition to this bill,” said Dr. Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission. “If this bill passes it lays the foundation for censoring Christians.

“In other countries, like in Canada and Sweden, where these types of hate crime laws have been implemented, pastors and Christians have been jailed and fined for their faithful adherence to the biblical values.”

In one particularly famous case, in 2007 Canada’s Alberta Human Rights Commission fined a Christian pastor several thousand dollars and ordered him to apologize and desist from ever again expressing his views on homosexuality in any public forum, after he publicly questioned the homosexual lifestyle and political agenda. The Commission ruled that a letter-to-the-editor by the pastor that was published in a local newspaper exposed homosexuals to “hatred and contempt.” The Commission also said that the letter may have contributed to a later beating of a homosexual teenager in the pastor’s area, despite the total absence of evidence linking the events.

A University of Calgary professor had filed the complaint against Pastor Stephen Boissoin for a letter he wrote to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate, in which he called the homosexual lifestyle immoral and dangerous, and challenged the encroachment of homosexualist curricula in schools throughout the province.

There have been numerous other similar cases that have taken place in Canada and the U.K.

See related coverage:

Alberta Pastor Fined $7000 and Ordered to Publicly Apologize and Remain Silent on Homosexuality

CWA Claims Fake “Hate Crimes” Being Used to Force Legislation through Congress

Judge drops ‘Hate Crimes’ Charge against ‘Philly 5’ for Preaching at Gay Festival

ABC 20/20 Report Says Matthew Shepard Killed During Robbery Not Anti-Gay Hate Crime