Monday, December 12, 2005

AFA Spends Big Time In Indiana To Promote Anti-Gay Bigotry

The American Family Association (yes, that’s the one anti-gay bigoted Micah Clark is a part of) took out full-page ads in today’s Indianapolis Star urging the paper’s readers to contact Indiana senators Evan Bayh (D) and Richard Lugar (R) and urge them to vote against pending federal hate crimes legislation.

As Advance Indiana reported last September, a bipartisan coalition in the House of Representatives passed a federal hate crimes law as part of the Children’s Safety Act. The pending legislation adds sexual orientation and gender identity as additional bases for hate crimes punishment. Rep. Mike Pence, we also reported, was hopping mad that the Republican-controlled House passed the measure.

Ironically, the AFA, as a major thrust of its ad campaign, is using equal protection under the Constitution as a reason for opposing a federal hate crimes law. The ad bellows: “Hate Crime Legislation = Unequal Justice in America.” This would be the same organization that has sought to write laws at the federal and state level to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation, while at the same time opposing any laws to protect persons from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The AFA, ever hypocritical, finds nothing wrong with the nation’s current hate crimes law, which was enacted in 1986. That law allows the prosecution of hate crimes based on race, religion and national origin. Yet, you don’t hear the AFA screaming for federal repeal of hate crime prosecution on the basis of religion.

Marion Co. Republican Prosecutor Carl Brizzi announced earlier this year he would propose state hate crimes legislation for bias motivations, including race, religion and sexual orientation. Brizzi told the Indiana Lawyer earlier this summer that hate crimes "have implications that go beyond the individual victim . . . [w]hile the victim will feel individual pain, the implications of that crime are shared by society at large." Brizzi told the Indiana Lawyer, that while his office didn't have statistics available on hate-related crimes his office has prosecuted, he maintained that they are out there. Brizzi said those cases included incidents "where people have been beaten up at bars because of their perceived sexual orientation."

The AFA’s view is completely out of the mainstream and based on its anti-gay bigoted views, which help fuel such crimes to be committed against persons because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sen. Evan Bayh supports federal hate crimes protection as has been amended into the Children’s Protection Act according to the Human Rights Campaign. Sen. Lugar has not committed to supporting it; however, in the past he supported the enactment of a federal law requiring the FBI to gather and maintain data on hate crimes, including those committed because of a person’s sexual orientation. The calls being made at the urging of AFA could influence only Sen. Lugar’s vote. As a Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bayh’s viability as a candidate would be seriously eroded if he did anything but vote for the measure. The calls will have no impact on his support for the legislation.

Sen. Lugar, on the other hand, is seeking re-election to an unprecedented fifth term. He has been going out of his way to kiss up to the gay-hating, Christian right organization, Advance America. Their website features a video of Advance America’s history on which Sen. Lugar can be viewed heaping praise on the Grand Dragon of Moral Righteousness Eric Miller. Lugar faces no primary opposition at this point, and no Democrat of any stature has stepped forward to take him on. There is absolutely no reason he cannot exercise independent judgment on this particular vote.

We’ll soon see just how far Sen. Lugar is willing to go to cow-tow to these hate groups. Contact Sen. Lugar’s office at 317-226-5555 and urge him to support federal hate crimes legislation if you want to make a difference. You can also email Lugar at

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