Is Congress protecting the wrong victims, or pursuing the wrong enemy?
Maybe both, with the so-called "hate crimes" bill passed this week by the U.S. Senate, under the vigorous urging of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy (D).
On the surface, this new legislation purports to offer federal protection of those individuals most likely to be endangered by their fellow citizens. But the bill's prime movers have a severely limited view of what constitutes "hate," American style.
House Democrats allowed as much before the bill even left their Judiciary committee.
They ignored the fact that federal law already prohibits acts of violence against individuals on the basis of race, religion, color, or national origin. They ignored the many state laws that already allow for the aggressive prosecution of such "hate crimes."
They spurned efforts by Republicans to expand the bill's protections to embrace such perennially high-profile targets of violence as pregnant women, senior citizens, police officers, and U.S. military personnel.
So, if this legislation is not about stopping "hate crimes" (no law can accomplish that)...
...and it's not about creatingneeded laws (where the laws are needed, they already exist)...
...and it's not about extending the existing laws to protect the broadest possible array of likely victims (Democrats in committee nixed that idea)...
...what is this "hate crimes" law about?
Primarily, it's about punishing people of traditional faith who dare oppose homosexual behavior.
The full-scale cultural assault just isn't working. For all the constant push for acceptance on television and in the movies, on the cable networks and the evening news programs, in popular magazines and news journals and websites … a significant segment of the American people, like former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Peter Pace, still declines to embrace homosexual behavior.
They refuse to endorse same-sex marriage. They won't concede that something the Bible condemns is, in fact, morally acceptable and amenable.
Do they believe those who practice immorality should be beaten, flogged, tortured, or shot? No. Do they believe they should be publicly ostracized or humiliated? No. Do they want to see those who practice sodomy mocked or persecuted for their choice? No.
But neither will people of traditional faith say something is okay that God has said is not okay. Nor will they stand idly by while their children are taught to admire, and perhaps experiment with, homosexual behavior. And they won't start editing the Bible to say only what people want to hear.
Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.