Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Capitol Offense: The Florida Family Association Promotes Hate

Our good old friends in the FFA have released the following breathless e-mail filled with lies and distortions so that their followers will contact Senators to urge them to pursue an agenda of hate. I'll give you their text and my response:

US Senate poised to vote on Hate Crimes Bill, please ask your senators to vote NO

The United States Senate is poised to vote Thursday on Senator Ted Kennedy’s infamous Hate Crimes Bill (S. 909).

There is nothing "infamous" about this bill other than it helps protect American taxpayers from being intimidated and assaulted based on who they are.

The legislation elevates "actual or perceived" "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the same federal legal status as race.

This is a cynical attempt to get racial minorities to join their attack on LGBT Americans by pitting them against each other. It's a oft-used historical tactic that only works if we allow it to. The implication here is that the LGBT community is downplaying the struggles of racial minorities.

The whole point with the language in quotes in this passage is that here in the real world there is a continuum of sexual orientation and gender identity that is more complex that conservatives want to have to deal with. Reality doesn't fit in with their either/or, black/white view of the world, so they use the quote marks here to belittle people and their rights.

Homosexual activists are urging passage of this bill which will give preferential treatment to prosecute crimes committed against some victims while ignoring other victims of the same crimes.

Support for this bill goes well beyond "homosexual activists." Anybody who believes in fairness, justice and equality supports this bill. And the logic at the end of this passage is both ridiculous and incredibly dishonest. The bill doesn't give anyone preferential treatment. It provides for stronger protections for people who face stronger assaults on their person. And you clearly can't argue that the law ignores something that is a "crime." The word crime, by definition, refers to something that is illegal. If someone is assaulted in order to steal money from them, that is still a crime and there is still a punishment associated with that. But if someone is assaulted because they are gay, then the purpose of the assault goes well beyond stealing money and moves into the realm of trying to silence and intimidate an entire class of people. Because of that much higher potential for harm, there should be higher penalties. We have stiffer penalties for murder than for parking violations because the former has higher potential to cause harm to society. Same thing for hate crimes.

Additionally, there are concerns that this legislation may be misused by those who want to prosecute speech that is ironically deemed intolerant by homosexual activists.

Such concerns are only held by people who don't favor equality for the LGBT community. No one with any familiarity with this bill, or the law in general, has any such concerns. Nothing in this law would penalize people for saying something that is evil or wrong, unless that speech directly leads to someone causing harm to people or property -- this is the same standard that already exists in our law.

The U.S. House passed their Hate Crimes Bill (HR 1913) on April 29, 2009. The vote was 249 to 175, with 10 not voting.

The House already did the right thing.

Now the US Senate is preparing to vote on this legislation.

There is still time for you to urge your two US Senators to vote NO on the Hate Crimes Bill.

Phone calls are most important at this stage in the political battle. Please contact your US Senators and ask them to vote NO on the Hate Crimes Bill (S. 909) Simply Call the Capitol Switchboard number, (202) 224-3121, and ask to be connected to your Senator. It will take less than 90 seconds and have a greater impact than just sending an email.


Please contact the two US Senators who represent your state, today. The vote is supposed to take place on Thursday, July 16th.

FFA is largely correct here. You should contact Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez and tell them to do the right thing -- vote yes on the Hate Crimes Bill. Vote yes for fairness, justice and equality. Vote no to hatred and fearmongering.

I'm Kenneth Quinnell and I approve this message.

Read more on Florida politics at the Florida Progressive Coalition blog (http://flaprogressives.org) and the Florida Progressive Coalition Wiki (http://quinnell.us/sspb/wiki/).