February 7, 2005


Bill Would Strip 'Sexual Orientation' from PA's Hate Crimes Law (Ed Thomas, February 7, 2005, AgapePress)

Legislators in Pennsylvania have introduced a bill designed to remove language from a state "hate crimes" law that was used against Christian protestors in the "Outfest" case in Philadelphia. The arrests of the Christians allowed political opponents of the hate crimes law to say their warnings were ignored.

House Bill 1493 became Act 143 of the Pennsylvania Hate Crimes Law in November 2002 and added "sexual orientation" protection to the law. Legislators and other opponents -- like Diane Gramley of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania -- warned then that the law could be used against the First Amendment rights of Christians, a charge sponsors adamantly denied was the intent. She even recalls one of the measure's supporters accusing opponents of having "an active imagination," and saying the bill was about "thugs, hooligans, murderers, and blood in the street," not about infringing on the rights of Christians.

That was until the pro-homosexual Outfest event in October 2004, when the "ethnic intimidation" charge against the arrested Christians was drawn from Act 143. Gramley says opponents of the measure now have the proof they need -- and 17 of them have co-sponsored House Bill 204.

"[This bill] removes the wording that was added back in November 2002 [when] 'actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity' [were added]," she explains.

State Representative Tom Yewcic was to introduce the new bill today (February 7) at a capital news conference. Gramley calls the lawmakers' move a "bold step in restoring the First Amendment rights of Pennsylvania's Christians."

Are they pro-gay or pro-morality?

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 7, 2005 3:36 PM

The problem is with the interpretation of the law. Philadelphia's District Attorney is firmly on the pocket of the pervert lobby. The above case is not the only horror story in this vein.

There are times when the legislative fix is the best way to go. If the statute may be so misapplied by DA's and judges, then the statute needs to be changed.

Parenthetically, the local press has been rather sympathetic to the defendants in this matter. The TV news and the press have reported that the speech was no more than that, and have been beating the First Amendment drum. We should keep watching this one.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 8, 2005 5:49 AM

Wouldn't we all be better off just prosecuting acts instead of this touchy-feely crap? Am I supposed to get all scared and intimidated when some yahoo preacher says 'G-d does not hear the prayers of a Jew?'

If someone gets killed because he's is gay or Jewish or Black or because he just happened to be behind the counter of the 7-11 when it was being robbed, shouldn't we simply execute his killers without being worried about motivations?

The reality is that, hate crime and hate speech statutes or not, there is always going to be lots of hate out there and for all kinds of reasons. People hate others who are fat, dress badly, wear glasses, like polka music, have money in their pocket, cheer for the Green Bay Packers or any of a zillion other reasons. The function of the law is to prevent people from acting on that hate by committing violence against those they hate whatever the reason.

Let the social workers, psychologists and clergymen busy themselves with why people hate others, it keeps them off the streets, and let the police and the courts focus on punishing those who would hit us over the head whatever their motivation. If someone shoots me because I'm Jewish or because his dog told him to, am I not just as dead as a result?

Posted by: Bart at February 8, 2005 8:03 AM

Ah Bart, society will show how much we value you and champion your minority heritage by punishing your hate-filled murder all the more severely for their crime. It would be afterall, not only a crime against you, but a crime against all others "like you" and "we" cannot condone that in any way, shape or form.

Posted by: Dave W. at February 8, 2005 11:23 PM