Tuesday, June 19, 2007

AFA Action Alert Misguided and Misleading

The American Family Association is circulating a petition to "take a stand in defense of two of our most precious freedoms—freedom of speech and freedom of religion." Their goal is to get 1,000,000 signatures, and they already have 300,000. The petition claims that "A California lawsuit which is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court would make the use of the words 'natural family,' 'marriage' and 'union of a man and a woman' a 'hate speech' crime in government workplaces" and that "A bill now before Congress (H.R. 1592 / S. 1105) would criminalize negative comments concerning homosexuality, such as calling the practice of homosexuality a sin from the pulpit, a 'hate crime' punishable by a hefty fine and time in prison." Both of these claims are exaggerations bordering on falsehood.

The California case involves a non-work-related, anti-gay flier that two Oakland city employees posted on a workplace bulletin board that office supervisors removed because it had offended other workers. The employees who posted the flier are not facing criminal charges and no one is suggesting that the use of phrases such as "natural family" or "union of a man and a woman" be a "hate speech" crime. The courts are simply saying that the employer has a right to remove material from a workplace bulletin board that the employer deems detrimental to the working environment.

As for the bill currently before Congress, the proposed legislation in no way suggests that negative comments about homosexuality ("such as calling the practice of homosexuality a sin from the pulpit") should be criminalized. Rather, the bill involves violent crimes against a person because of that person's "actual or perceived" race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. Violent crimes motivated by a person's actual or perceived race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation should be taken very seriously because 1) they are essentially acts of terror, meant to intimidate everyone in the targeted group; and 2) perpetrators who can be motivated to attack someone based on nothing more specific than that person's race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on are especially dangerous and likely to strike again.

Snopes has more details.


Anonymous Ashley said...

it may be exageration today, but these two bills, if passed, will open the door for future legislation. the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity do not need to be added as a protected classes.

6:51 PM  

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