“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”
These noble words penned 232 years ago form the backbone of American liberty and are an expression of the freedom and dignity all mankind is owed simply by virtue of being human. The recent passage of HR 1913 from the House Judiciary Committee is a derogation of that principle and step in the frightening direction of penalizing thought; something unheard of in American history.
This legislation which passed the committee on a straight party line vote, gives the attorney general of the United States the power to prosecute under federal law any crime of violence based on the thoughts of the alleged perpetrators. More specifically crimes that
motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim,
In other words those who believe in the words of our Declaration of Independence and the 14th Amendment are anachronistic right wing lunatics. The 14th amendment guarantees equal protection under the law, and was the basis upon which such notable court decisions as Brown v. Board of Education were decided. Yet H.R. 1913 creates an elevated class of people who are the some (that) are more equal than others. Furthermore, by highlighting the suspected motivations of alleged criminals, the state has taken upon itself the task of policing the thought life of citizens, thus overstepping her bounds.
Religious leaders are rightfully concerned that the legislation will be used as a bludgeon to silence religious critique of homosexual practice since it could be reasonably construed as inciting or inducing violence against a protected class of people. Certainly the Bible is replete with ancient laws concerning both crime and punishment, and no major religious or cultural tradition anywhere endorses homosexuality as a normative state or condones or encourages its practice. Even so, efforts by committee members to define the term “sexual orientation” in the bill met with resistance and were rejected by Democrats.
Rep. Gohmert (R) of Texas noted that the current diagnostic manuals references over 30 different “sexual orientations,” including pedophilia, necrophilia, and exhibitionism. So even if one believes that homosexuality practiced between consenting adults is a-ok, this legislation goes far beyond that.
Proponents of hate crimes legislation argue that such measures are necessary to combat crimes done to intimidate or terrorize certain groups, which was often the purpose of the lynching of Blacks throughout the nation. How ironic that it is not the lynch mob sent to terrorize and intimidate, but the instruments of state power.