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Report: Fundamentalist Groups Opposing Hate-Crime Laws

Image: Report: Fundamentalist Groups Opposing Hate-Crime Laws

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By    |   Tuesday, 07 Feb 2017 01:08 PM

Christian fundamentalist groups have opposed lawmakers' attempts in some states to pass hate-crime laws, according to a report in ProPublica.

One of those states is South Carolina, the state in which white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston in 2015, the report said.

That law, and others like it, would have increased standard penalties for assaults and threats if those actions were based on the victim's "race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, or sexual orientation," ProPublica reported.

Since the 1980s, nearly every U.S. state has enacted hate-crime laws, including Washington, D.C., and the federal government. South Carolina, Indiana, Wyoming, Arkansas, and Georgia are the only states that do not have such laws, ProPublica reported.

The fundamentalist groups reject legal protections for gay and transgender people on religious grounds on the grounds that such protections are part of a "homosexual agenda," according to ProPublica.

Focus on the Family, the Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Family Research Council are three interlinked groups that have encouraged actions in those five states that have no hate-crime laws, ProPublica reported.

"Homophobia and resistance to providing protections for LGBT people obviously play a role in the pushback," according to Robin Maril, associate legal director for the LGBT advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign. "None of this legislation would ever impede an individual's ability to speak out . . . We are not policing ministers' ability to give sermons," Maril told ProPublica.

Family Research Council lobbyist Ryan McCann said hate-crime laws favoring LGBT people will lead to more statutes that favor them, according to ProPublica.

"The gay-rights groups, and the folks on the left only want to get the terms 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' into the law. Unfortunately, that's all they care about — their agenda," McCann said.

"There are gay-rights activists all over the country who are trying to silence those who don't agree with them," the lobbyist added.

"Those are 'alternative facts' – it's mind-boggling," Indiana State Sen. Greg Taylor said.

Georgia state Sen. Vincent Fort, a Democrat, said five of his hate-crime bills have failed because of their mention of sexual orientation, but he refuses to relinquish that requirement.

"I'm not going to have anything to do with a hate-crimes law that, in effect, is discriminatory," he said in ProPublica's report. "Wouldn't that be ironic?" 

Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in 1998 in an attack because he was gay, wrote in The Advocate the fight for the legislation continues. "Everybody can make a difference, and everybody should try," she said.

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Christian fundamentalist groups have opposed lawmakers' attempts in some states to pass hate-crime laws, according to a report in ProPublica.
Christian, fundamentalist, hate-crime, laws
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2017-08-07
Tuesday, 07 Feb 2017 01:08 PM
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