Monday, February 26, 2007

Porter Defends Hate Crimes Bill, But It's Too Little Too Late

Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis) puts up a reasoned defense for his hate crimes legislation in an opinion piece in the Star today explaining why it's time to pass it. Unfortunately, it's too little too late. Absolutely nobody over at the State House bothered to call out the Christian right, led by Advance America's Eric Miller and the American Family Association's Micah Clark, as they have spread outright lies about the legislation laced with anti-gay bigoted rhetoric. As I have pleaded with the folks pushing this legislation to respond to those false, bigoted attacks, their response has been that their claims were so nutty nobody could possibly buy into their arguments. Hello, have you met any of our legislators?

A good point Porter makes in his opinion piece is the fact the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of hate crimes law. If HB 1459 would lead to ministers being charged with a hate crime for speaking out against "homosexuality" from the pulpit as Clark and Miller have both falsely alleged, then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist would most have assuredly ruled against them. He did not. As Porter explains:

In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that hate-crime laws based on intent are constitutional. In his decision, Chief Justice William Rehnquist specifically noted that judges have traditionally been allowed to consider the motivation of defendants when imposing sentences. Rehnquist said that hate crimes inflict distinct emotional harm on their victims and can trigger social instability.

People will have to learn that if you want to beat these bigoted religious zealots who are polluting this state with their intolerant views, you have to get in the trenches and go hand-to-hand, toe-to-toe to combat them. They have proven time and time again they are not beneath using their phony nonprofit organizations to stir up folks by playing on prejudices. Yes, their rhetoric often seems too nutty and defenseless to merit a response, but Miller and Clark know it works. That's why they do it. Until they are called out in a public forum for what they're really all about, they will continue doing it with success.


Anonymous said...

Isn't there any way to tack this onto another bill? They seem to do that all the time.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Theoretically, an attempt could be made to amend HB 1459 into a Senate bill in the House. It would most likely be a different subject matter, however, which means it automatically winds up in the Senate Rules Committee, where it could be rejected. It also must be approved by one of the houses to be eligible for inclusion in a conference committee.

Anonymous said...

Indiana's legislature. Too many fools, not enough courage.