By a vote of 15-12, hate crimes legislation passes the House Judiciary Committee. It could go up for a vote by the full House as early as next week.
And the religious right are just itching for a way to defeat it.
Just in case the lie about pastors going to jail isn't enough the derail the bill, the religious right are now inaccurately claiming that the bill is not clear on what exactly is a sexual orientation.
Aiding and abetting this nonsense is Republican Congressman Steve King:
Steve King (R-Iowa) told Democratic members that "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" are vague terms that need to be specifically defined since courts will be analyzing those terms.
"This panel -- this Judiciary Committee, including the authors of this bill -- either don't know or won't say what the definitions are, for example, [of] gender identity [or] sexual orientation," King stated. "Does sexual orientation...include transvestism? Does it include transgendered? Are those two that are also part of sexual orientation?" he asked. "And if so, if that's two of 30 [orientations], what are the other 28 that are part of sexual orientation?"
This is nonsense. It's a lie perpetrated by the Traditional Values Coalition. What King was referring to are paraphalias, which are described as:
. . . fantasies, behaviors, or sexual urges focusing on unusual objects, activities, or situations . .
Paraphilias have nothing to do with sexual orientation.
King also inaccurately linked the transgendered community with paraphalias.
As this legislation moves to a vote, expect to see the religious right pull out all of the stops. According to People for the American Way, they already have.
Link here to read a listing of religious right lies and generally inaccurate statements about hate crimes legislation including:
Focus on the Family - Under "hate-crimes" laws like H.R. 1913, pastors could be prosecuted for preaching the biblical view of homosexuality. Similar laws have been used to prosecute religious speech in the U.S. at the state level and abroad.
"The homosexual activists' mantra is no longer tolerance — it's embrace and promote," said Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst at Focus on the Family Action. "Anything less will be silenced. Christians must speak up."
Family Research Council - The act would establish a new FEDERAL offense for so-called "hate crimes" and add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as protected classes. It will mandate a separate federal criminal prosecution for state offenses.
Adding "sexual orientation" to thought crimes legislation gives one set of crime victims a higher level of protection than it gives to people like you and me.
And of course the Traditional Values Coalition - The main purpose of this “hate crime” legislation is to add the categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” “either actual or perceived,” as new classes of individuals receiving special protection by federal law. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality on an ever-expanding continuum. Will Congress also protect these sexual orientations-zoophiles, pedophiles or polygamists?
Gender identity includes such gender confused behaviors as cross-dressing, she-male, drag queen, transvestite, transsexual or transgender. Under the Act, neither “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” are really defined. How can a law be enforced if the new classes receiving special protection remain undefined?
It's going to be very interesting to see what happens. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that the bill passes the other hurdles.