Seldom have I seen a lawsuit where the actual intent was so despicably transparent.
Far from the intended purpose of severely punishing criminals who commit unspeakable acts against a persecuted minority group, the religious activists claim the laws are a guarded effort to "eradicate" their beliefs.
Filed by the Thomas More Law Center [theocon delinked]-- which bills itself as the religious answer to the American Civil Liberties Union -- the complaint claims that protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people "is an effort to eradicate religious beliefs opposing the homosexual agenda from the marketplace of ideas by demonizing, vilifying, and criminalizing such beliefs as a matter of federal law and policy."
The suit was placed on behalf of American Family Association of Michigan [theocon delinked] president Gary Glenn, along with pastors Rene Ouellette, Levon Yuille and James Combs.
"Of the 1.38 million violent crimes reported in the U.S. by the FBI in 2008, only 243 were considered as motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation," he wrote on the group's Web site [theocon delinked]. "The sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin."
However, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act clearly stipulates that it does not apply to constitutionally protected speech.
(3) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.
(4) FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.
The Thomas More Law Center's argument is eerily similar to a fundraising letter circulated by the Family Research Council at the end of 2009, in which the conservative group claimed that extending workplace non-discrimination rules is really Obama's secret plot to "impose" homosexuality on America.
However, according to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, "[the non-discrimination rule] exempts all religious organizations, which includes corporations, associations, and religious societies. In addition, all educational institutions are exempt if the educational institution is at least substantially controlled or owned by a religious organization or if the institution's curriculum is directed towards the propagation of a religion."
The Thomas More suit, however, goes even further than just challenging hate crimes protection for LGBT people; it challenges the findings of the Matthew Shepard investigation.
"Thomas More attorneys make the case that the perpetrators of the murder of Matthew Shepard were subject to more several criminal penalties under existing state criminal law than under the new federal Hate Crimes Act," religious news outlet Christian Post notes [theocon delinked]. "They also say there is evidence demonstrating that the senseless and brutal attack on Shepard was not motivated by hate or bias; rather, it was motivated by money and drugs."
Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old gay man from Wyoming who was tied to a fence and beaten to death in 1998. A foundation carrying his name played an important role in helping to broaden hate crimes definitions to cover LGBT people.
The Post's story, which does not point out that the actual law carries protections for constitutional speech, claims that plaintiffs are merely seeking "judicial reassurance" that they can continue to disparage homosexuals "without being investigated or prosecuted by the government."… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Raw Story>
The law on this is crystal clear. Speech in opposition to what these bigots call homosexuality, however misguided, perverse, and obtuse, is Constitutionally protected speech. Since the judicial reassurance they claim to seek is already written into the law, that claim must be a law. Were this law to be overturned, the only right they would gain is the right to advocate hate crimes. Therefore, that is what they are seeking to obtain.
I have to make one more point here, even though I’ve beaten it to death. Real Christians do not advocate hate crimes. We advocate acceptance for all people of good will. The American Taliban represent Supply-side Jesus, a GOP/theocon invention to justify their dogma of fear, hate and greed. Historical Jesus opposed religious hypocrites, the religious right of His time on earth. So should we.