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Religious Tolerance logo

U.S. hate crime bills/laws - 2009

More positive reactions to the law.

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bulletWelton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance said:

"In an America increasingly rife with uncivil and narrow-minded bickering, this new law can serve as a ringing pronouncement of our democracy's common values. Namely, that we utterly reject hate violence and embrace an America in which diverse people are safe as well as free." 3

bulletRabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said:

"This carefully crafted law will not infringe on any individual's First Amendment rights. It addresses violent acts and no person, whether a faith leader or otherwise, will be prosecuted for their thoughts, words, or beliefs." 3

bulletRichard Shreve at OpEdNews wrote:

"Senators Specter, Levin and Leahy spoke to the press and advocates for the legislation. Levin made it clear that religious leaders can continue to express their beliefs [concerning the morality of behavior protected by the law] as they see fit. The bill only applies to bias-motivated crimes of violence, and includes strong protections of speech and association." 4

bulletAttorney General, Eric Holder said:

"Hate crimes victimize not just individuals, but entire communities. Perpetrators of hate crimes seek to deny the humanity that we all share, regardless of the color of our skin, the God to whom we pray, or whom we love." 5

bulletRep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) became the first openly lesbian member of the House, in 1998-NOV. She was the first GLBT person to run for office as a lesbian. Four previous gay House members only revealed their sexual orientation after having been elected. 8 She said, shortly after the signing:

"It was an incredibly moving ceremony-Judy and Dennis Shepard were in the front row watching this historic event. I had the chance to speak with both of them before the ceremony began and to recognize their incredible efforts to make this day possible."

"Hate crimes are a particularly horrific type of crime.  Many have characterized it as acts of domestic terrorism, because not only is there an immediate victim of violence who's selected by virtue of a characteristic such as race, or religion, or sexual orientation, or gender identity; but once that crime occurs, it sends a terrorizing message to all who share that characteristic. ..."

"Believe it or not, this is the first piece of legislation dealing with LGBT civil rights ever to be signed into law at the federal level. I do hope it will be the first of many yet to come, so that we are able to achieve full equality in the years and months ahead." 9

bulletHaris Tarin, National Community Development Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) wrote:

"Hate crimes encroach on the civil and human rights that apply to people from all walks of life, and hate itself is at times the wedge that drives communities apart. In the United States, civil rights are part of the American fabric of life. As stated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." 5

bulletJoe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign -- the largest group in the country advocating for lesbian, gay, transgender and transsexual (LGBT) rights -- wrote:

"We look forward to President Obama signing it into law: our nation's first major piece of civil rights legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people." 6

bulletEquality Maryland commented:

"The 68-29 vote was a victory for civil rights and disability groups that have been fighting for years to expand the federal hate-crimes statutes." 7

bulletRea Carey, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force wrote in a letter to their supporters:

"This is a victory for the Task Force, for LGBT people, and for everyone committed to justice and equality. Together we rejected efforts to protect some but not all by demanding that gender identity be included in the law. And you spoke out -- loudly and clearly -- against efforts to twist hate crimes protections into an excuse to expand the injustice of the death penalty."

"Today, we have taken an important step forward on the march to full equality. We still have a long road ahead of us, but with your continued support and action, and with the unwavering commitment of the LGBT community and straight allies, we will finally create a world where no one will be subjected to violence or any other injustice simply for living their lives, honestly and openly, and being who they are." 2

bulletMcCoy, pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in St. Louis, and president of the Missouri Baptist Convention said that Congress:
"... can write the laws they wish, but it's not going to affect what I preach and how I preach it. However, I will also tell you I don't believe the way that I preach the word of God that speaks against such sin makes people think I take any joy in pointing any fingers at anyone." 10

bulletRev. Daniel O'Connell, pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Eliot Chapel in Kirkwood, MO, said:
"It's true that very conservative Christians have an antipathy towards gays and lesbians. [Fear of sermon persecution] begs credulity to my mind. I just don't buy the argument that this is going to keep conservative pastors from preaching whatever they want to preach." 10

Deceptive, misleading and negative reactions are covered in a separate essay

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Text etc. of the "Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act," GovTrack, at: http://www.govtrack.us/
  2. Charlie Butts, "Christians on high alert over hate crimes passage," OneNewsNow, 2009-OCT-24, at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/
  3. Adelle M. Banks, "Faith leaders divided over passage of hate crimes bill," The Pew Forum, 2009-OCT-23, at: http://pewforum.org/
  4. "Congress extends hate crime protections to homosexuals," Associated Press, 2009-OCT-23, at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/
  5. Haris Tarin, "Senate finalizes hate crime legislation," MPAC News, 2009-SEP-23, at: http://www.mpac.org/
  6. Jennifer Riley, "Senate Passes Hate Crimes Bill; Obama Expected to Sign," Christian Post, 2009-OCT-23, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
  7. "US Senate Passes Expanded Hate Crimes Legislation," Equality Maryland EQMD E-News, 2009-OCT-23.
  8. "Baldwin breaks barrier, becomes first openly lesbian House member," CNN, 1998-NOV-03, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  9. Pam Spaulding, "Live: hate crimes bill signing -- reactions," Pam's House Blend, 2009-OCT-29, at: http://www.pamshouseblend.com/
  10. Tim Townsend, "Conservative pastors believe new hate crime law restricts freedom of preach," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2009-OCT-31, at: http://www.stltoday.com/

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Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2009-AUG-23
Latest update: 2009-NOV-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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