Some fools from Michigan have filed a federal lawsuit over last year’s Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which became federal law last year.
The group is made up of three Michigan ministers and Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association’s Michigan division and the Mitten State’s No. 1 antigay creep.
Their complaint? The Hate Crimes Prevention Act violates their first-amendment right to speak out against homosexuality.
They allege that the act has the “effect of deterring, inhibiting and chilling the exercise of fundamental rights by persons … who publicly oppose homosexual activism, the homosexual lifestyle and the homosexual agenda.”
Wow, airtight argument, right? I mean, as long as you ignore the part of the act that reads, “Nothing in this division 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 to the Constitution of the United States and peaceful picketing or demonstration.”
Minor detail. Maybe this is why U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has called for the lawsuit to be dismissed.
Still, I can’t help but wonder, if the Hate Crimes Act already safeguards the constitutional rights of homophobes and only prohibits violent acts, what are the “fundamental rights” Glenn and his band of ministers claim are being violated? The right to punch a homo in the name of God?
But hey, the suit’s convoluted argument is good enough for U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who sent the group a letter giving them props.
“As a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, I worked hard to stop this legislation,” King writes. “Like you, I believe this ‘Hate Crimes’ Act is unconstitutional and marks an unprecedented move to regulate and criminalize our thoughts.”
That’s right. King thinks the Hate Crimes Act constitutes thought control. It doesn’t, of course, but even if it did, everybody knows that thought control can be easily thwarted with a helmet made of aluminum foil.
King continues, “Not only will this act create a class of people that are ‘more equal than others,’ it will hinder your ability to preach the gospel and openly teach biblical principles.”
Unless folks are preaching the gospel using a tire iron and steel-toe boots and “teaching biblical principles” means beating some fags up outside of a gay club, it’s hard to see what King’s problem is.
But logic has never stopped antigay folks in the past. When King says the Hate Crimes Act creates “a class of people that are more equal than others,” what he means is that strengthening laws regarding brutality against LGBT folks acknowledges that LGBT folks not only exist, but that they are at an increased risk of violence. Not only that, but that they deserve protection from said violence.
The Hate Crimes Act doesn’t make hating gays illegal. What it does is tell folks that the United States, at the highest level of government, doesn’t tolerate violence against LGBT people. Apparently that’s not the kind of country King and the plaintiffs he praises want to live in.
D’Anne Witkowski has been gay for pay since 2003. She’s a freelance writer and poet (believe it!). When she’s not taking on the creeps of the world, she reviews rock ’n’ roll shows in Detroit with her twin sister.