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Rep. Barrett stands against "Hate Cime Bill"


web posted May 1, 2009
Dear Editor,
Wednesday, the House passed H.R. 1913, better known as the Hate Crimes Bill. I opposed this legislation because I believe it creates a special class of victims, suppresses religious freedom and criminalizes thought.

Under this bill, justice will no longer be equal. It will depend on a victim’s race, gender or sexual orientation. This legislation allows for different penalties to be imposed for the same crime. This bill clearly violates the 14th Amendment by creating a special class of victims who deserve some kind of special protection under the law. More importantly, this legislation unwinds a key thread of our judicial system by placing a higher value on one life or lifestyle over another.

In addition to creating a special class of victims, this legislation could allow for the criminal prosecution of religious leaders or members of religious groups who express the beliefs of their respective faiths. Pastors, imams and rabbis across the country would now be forced to question the legality of the words they preach. Consequently, this bill will inhibit religious freedom in our society.

Unfortunately, constitutionally-protected speech is not the only freedom jeopardized by the Hate Crimes Bill. This legislation would go so far as to criminalize thought. No matter how fervently we disagree with what someone thinks, we cannot punish them for thinking it. It is the criminal action that merits swift justice; not the thought or motivation.

The legislation must still be considered by the Senate and signed by the President before becoming law. Please be assured that I will continue to work hard to protect the Constitutional rights of all Americans. Thank you for your time and as always, please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any thoughts or concerns.

Rep. Gresham Barrett (R) 3rd Congressional District

View Rep. Barretts statement on the floor of the US House here




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