The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1592, an act to extend hate crimes protection to individuals who are victims of crimes based on the “perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim”.
What is new about this legislation is the extension of protection to individuals based on sexual orientation, or gender identity. What is not new is the response of the White House which is threatening a veto.
It is not enough to deny homosexuals the same rights as others by denying them the right to marriage or even the opportunity to enter into civil unions that the rest of us enjoy. It is also necessary for the Republicans who lead this nation to make sure that they are not receiving the needed protection that Matthew Shepard, the 21 year old gay college student failed to get after being beaten to death after being tied to a fence and left to die. That kind of special protection would be excessive.
“Criminalizing thoughts as well as actions, and creating special categories of victims is unconstitutional. The actions of a majority of the House today undermine the promise of equal protection under the law guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.
This legislation creates second-class victims and a legal system of ‘separate and unequal.’ “There has been no proof that violent crimes perpetrated against any of the groups listed in the bill have not been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, yet now Congress is asking the federal government to get
involved in issues that are, and should remain, local concerns.
“By far the most disturbing threat we face by this legislation — is
the threat it poses to free speech and our religious liberties. In some jurisdictions that have adopted similar laws, ‘hate crimes’ have been defined to include not just physical acts of violence but merely verbal ones as well. When ‘thought crimes’ laws are interpreted this way, they pose a serious threat to freedom of speech and religious liberty.
“I strongly encourage people to let their Senators know to vote against this unconstitutional legislation and encourage President Bush to follow through with the White House statement issued today and veto any such measure should it reach his desk.”
And yet this legislation clearly provides for protection of all First Amendment activity that is protected in the Constitution. This is about violent crimes not thought. This is not about religious freedom being impinged upon; this is about individuals suffering from society’s neglect while organized hate groups act against them.
“We applaud the president’s courage in standing up for the Constitution and the principle of equal protection under the law. The American justice system should never create second-class victims, and it is a first-class act of wisdom and fairness for the president to pledge to veto this unnecessary bill.”
Courage? To exercise his third veto of his term to stand tall on the side of hate against those who seek to end persecution of minorities? Equal protection under the law? Is Dobson prepared to fight for the right of gay couples to get married? Or is that part of the 14th Amendment that he doesn’t like? Remember it was the 14th Amendment that was turned topsy-turvy in the Bush v. Gore decision that resulted in this President being coronated by the Supreme Court in 2000.
And what was the White House response to this Bill? As reported:
“The White House, in a statement warning of a veto, said state and local criminal laws already cover the new crimes defined under the bill, and there was “no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement.”
It also noted that the bill leaves other classes, such as the elderly, the military and police officers, without similar special status.”
Huh? Are the military and elderly or police officers victims of hate crimes? Do they represent some sort of minority that we haven’t realized before?
This is about the 14th Amendment. This is about the 1st Amendment. This is about all of the Amendments and all of the Articles and every last letter and punctuation mark in the Constitution. We have a sickness in this land. A sickness of hate and intolerance of those who are different than us. Those that worship God in a different fashion, those that have different colors to their face, a different language in which they speak and yes, even have a different approach to sex.
And there are people who wish to hurt other people in this nation. And this Government must act to protect the Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness of every American! That is what we have government for and that is why we have a Constitution.
So yes Mr. President. You need to sign this Bill. You need to stand up and tell the rest of the world that hate has no home in this nation. That you don’t necessarily accept, don’t necessarily approve of, don’t necessarily agree with everything that is practiced in America. That’s your right.
But it is your duty as President to protect the rights that every American is promised in this nation. That was part of your oath and yes part of your job. So make the right decison Mr. Decider. You still have the chance to show us you can tear down the walls of intolerance and misunderstanding that divide us or you can choose to protect the “sanctity of hate”.
“Tear down those walls Mr. Bush!”