By Peter J. Smith
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 9, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The US Senate intends to smuggle controversial hate crimes legislation into federal law by passing it as an amendment to another major piece of legislation instead of a stand-alone piece of legislation, according to remarks by a representative of a major homosexualist organization.
“We understand that Senate leadership does not believe a hearing or mark up on the bill is necessary and plans to bring it directly to the floor as an amendment to another moving vehicle,” said Trevor Thomas, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in a statement provided to the Washington Blade, a homosexual news journal.
Although the US House of Representatives had passed H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, as a stand-alone bill by a 249-175 margin in April, the Senate leadership had until lately been debating how to pass its version S. 909 – either as a stand-alone piece legislation which could attract opposition and a possible filibuster, or as an amendment. Thomas told the Blade that the senate had opted for the latter as “the most efficient way” to guarantee the measure arrived as quickly as possible at President Barack Obama’s desk for signature.
Opponents of the hate crimes legislation have charged that the bill violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution by making an individual’s thought regarding certain groups as much a factor as the nature of his act in prosecuting a crime. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins has pointed out that, “What converts the acts targeted by this bill into a federal offense are the thoughts or opinions of the perpetrator alone.”
H.R. 1913 added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as well as race, religion, class, gender, and disability to categories that are protected as “hate crimes.” Under this legislation, crimes against individuals who belong to the protected classes receive stiffer penalties than crimes against other groups not mentioned by the bill, a fact that critics charge makes “second class citizens” out of those not covered by the law.
The bill has also been labeled the “pedophile protection act,” in large part due to the refusal of House members to approve an amendment specifying that the bill would not penalize the free speech of those objecting to pedophilia. The term “sexual orientation” is not defined in the bill, an oversight that some legislators charge could lead to a too broad interpretation – since the term is used by psychologists to encompass a variety of sexual deviancies (including pedophilia), and not just homosexuality.
The HRC told the Blade that they are pushing to have the legislation approved before the end of the August session. It stated that senators in favor of the “hate crimes” bill are looking for “any and all options” as vehicles for the passage of the amendment.
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Free Speech Concerns Ignored as “Hate Crimes” Bill Passes Fed. Judiciary Committee
Obama Urges House of Representatives to Pass Sexual Orientation “Hate Crimes” Bill
Fed. Judiciary Committee to Examine Homosexualist “Hate Crimes” Bill Monday
Pro-Family Group Urges Congress to Oppose Federal “Hate Crimes” Bill Set for Committee Hearing Tomorrow