• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Chilling Effect of Hate Crimes Law?

    President Obama signed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law last month. More precisely, he signed into law the fiscal year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, which contains the hate crimes measure as a ride-along amendment. Either way it’s viewed, the measure is misnamed with respect to the hate crimes provision, as it neither provides for national defense nor adheres to principles of local law enforcement. Instead, the bill makes a federal matter out of certain violent crimes committed against individuals based on their real or perceived personal characteristics.

    Future misapplication of the new hate crimes law to invite federal prosecution of individuals who express moral or religious beliefs about homosexual conduct remains a deep concern among religious and family groups, who believe that language offered by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) may not prove strong enough to prevent federal inquiries designed to chill discussions of traditional moral views.

    On this point, some of the rhetoric surrounding President Obama’s signing of the bill offered scant comfort. Rather than insisting that the hate crimes law does no more than allow occasional federal assistance in cases where local resources are inadequate to ensure proper prosecution, advocates of the measure cited it as a nondiscrimination measure designed to serve as a prelude to an entire new class of civil rights law. The Washington Post hailed its signing with an air of regret that the bill does too little: “While this [the hate crimes law] is an advance, more important legislation awaits: banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation; ending the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, and allowing same-sex marriage.” If it looks, sounds and feels like a slippery slope . . .

    Meanwhile, as Heritage Foundation Visiting Fellow Tom Messner has documented, evidence is accumulating that crimes of vandalism, physical and verbal intimidation, invasion of privacy, disruption of employment and threats of serious physical harm are occurring against people with opposing views on the merits of same-sex marriage. Even President Obama has referred to advocates of traditional marriage as seeking to “enshrine discrimination into our Constitution.” Laws have consequences, and eventually – perhaps soon – the debate over the implications of the new federal hate crimes measure will cease to be academic.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Chilling Effect of Hate Crimes Law?

    1. Virescentgirl, Virgi says:

      "Instead, the bill makes a federal matter out of certain violent crimes committed against individuals based on their real or perceived personal characteristics."

      I find it funny that many people get up in arms about sexual orientation when religion is also covered. But no one got up in arms about that. People choose to be a particular religion. Sometimes that Religion is considered heresy by another. And it is possible a religious group could preach against another religious group (and I know it has happened). I have yet to see any preacher prosecuted for hate crime because of his teachings that his religion is THE ONLY religion and all others are of the devil.

      Food for thought.

    2. Virescentgirl, Virgi says:

      And with regards to the crime against people of opposition, anyone who commits these crimes should be punished as should those that commit the violent crimes against gays and lesbians. Violence is not a reason to discriminate or continue to hate an entire group of people.

    3. Steven Cariati Sling says:

      Discrimination is hard-wired into this law. And how come it was tacked on to a Defense bill? Could not take the heat of open and Liberal-minded debate? Kind of like Healthcare being rammed down our throats?

      The hard-wired discrimination in this bill is simple to follow. The killing or attack against a Gay person or Latino or Black or chinese or Vietnamese or Guyanese or (how about an Italian who has been here and is a capitalist by now?) et al that make up our nation is more heinous than if done to a White guy? Why is that? What is this leading to? This administration and Dem. Congress is on a road to Change. So how are you all liking the change so far? You like our apologist President as he calls me and the other tea partyites "extremists"? And you must be enthralled with his bow to the King of Saudi Arabia: or his blaming the USA for worldwide polution so that he now proposes thru his proxy that we reimburse tin-horn dictators around the world so they are not hurt; or how did you like all our Congressman that approved of the oxmoron "The Affordable Healthcare bill for America"that is estimated to cost $2.4trillion according to Heritage studies;or how about his "sensitive" handling of the Ft. Hood massacre by an avowed hater of the USA-a Muslim terrorist acting alone apparently-guess he does not like the truth when it smacks him in the face;You know I could continue but enough for now. Hopefully if America wakes up these severe changes will be solved in November 2010. Very sad for our country.

    4. adam says:

      is this even serious?

      states have hate hate crime laws for atleast a decade now, and not one of them has ever been misconstrued to restrict free speech. Why do people insist on digging for issues where here are none?

    5. Jan, Boston says:

      In discussions about Hate Crime laws why isn't the 14th Amendment ever mentioned. It says "no state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws". That seems very clear. We MUST all be treated equally under the law.

      How can this unequal treatment of citizens through Hate and Crime laws withstand a Constitutional challenge?

    6. Bobbie Jay says:

      What is with this "hate crime?" It is aa if they are infiltrating the feeling regardless if the act was other than!

      …self defense turned into a "hate crime." It doesn't belong here, anyway.

      What about this "gays and lesbians serving openly in the military?" What happened? Does the president just want them to be identified?

      People get teased and beat up and worse if you are or act suspect, this happens regardless of being gay or lesbian. The crime is somebody's lack of self control and are responsible for that. The law shouldn't reflect anybody's personal feelings. Frivolous and dictatorial.

      And why is this a priority?

    7. Editor, Christian Pr says:

      Pastors to engage in 'Civil Disobedience,' push limits of law

      WASHINGTON — On Monday, November 16 at 1:30 PM, the Coalition for Faith and Freedom, an ad hoc group of concerned clergy, will rally in front of the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. to test the limits of the expanded federal hate crimes law.


    8. JennyD says:

      I agree with Bobby Jay,

      Its the crime that should be punished equally under the law, not the thoughts or feelings of the perpetrator. Otherwise, we have the existence of thought police. Another freedom lost!!!

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.