The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act Would Not Stop Anyone’s Religious Free Speech; Read the Bill, Then Shut Up!

hate-crimeFirst of all, I can’t say I am whole-heartedly in favor of the hate crimes bill in Congress. For my tax dollars spent on social issues of this kind, I’d much rather see Congress, first, get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) and the “Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The bill, which if enacted, would be called the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. (Click to the bill from the Library of Congress. Read it; it’s just one page.) After reading it for myself, I’m getting sick of all the christian whiners all over the net crying that they are going to lose their ability to spew out hate. The bill does basically these things:

  • Gives the necessity for having such laws
  • Defines what hate crimes are
  • Says the support, both financial and otherwise, can be given to state and local jurisdictions, especially when the crime involves more than one state or in rural areas, basically in the form of grants
  • Gives more specifics on what hate crimes are (those involve bodily injury and death)
  • Explains in what situations the federal government can get involved
  • Explains what evidence is admissible
  • Explains that the Act follows the Constitution, which gives free speech.

In fact, the bill directly stipulates that speech, including religious speech, is still protected; read from Section 10:

    • (3) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.
    • (4) FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.

If someone says that his religious speech will be limited because of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, he hasn’t read it, or he is just lying and trying to stir things up for others who won’t bother to read it.

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Remembering Mom

bouquetMy mother passed away the day before Barack Obama was elected to be the next President and gay marriage lost in California.  Three days ago was her birthday.

My mother had lived a good, long life, so because of her age and recent deterioration of health, her passing was not unexpected.  Even so, because of losing her, my reaction to the election, both Obama’s victory and the defeat in California, was more of numbness, than of a mixture of elation and dejection, which I might otherwise have experienced.

One never knows what his  feelings and reactions will be to a parent’s death until it actually happens, but having lost my dad more than 20 years ago and a bit more unexpectedly, I had an idea what I would feel, and in reality, what I have felt is not so different than I had thought.

These days, I just find myself remembering different times spent with my mom, things that happened, which I haven’t thought about for a long time.

I don’t have any regrets about having left anything unsaid as some people do.  My family was never one to share a lot of personal feelings openly, either verbally or physically.  Somewhere, though, after I had grown up, my mother began to show that she cared about others more physically, so when I came home from the military, I was surprised, and somewhat uncomfortable when she wanted to hug me at the airport.

My mom and I never had “the talk” about my being gay.  She gave me (and my brothers too, I think) firey warnings about getting some girl pregnant when I was in high school.  Then she kept up the question, “Got a girlfriend?” after I was in college and later on.  After many years of that, she finally stopped, but I could see her ears perk up the times when I would mention some female colleague or friend.  She finally stopped all of that after she came and spent some time visiting me.  I’m sure she saw the photograph of me and my long-distance boyfriend, which I had purposeful left on my dresser.  He called me during her visit, and she later asked me how he was doing, but we never talked anything about exactly what our relationship was.  I think she had known about me all along though, maybe not exactly, because sexuality would have been far from any theme that would have been discussed.

That was the way we were in my family, never being able to talk about much of anything we felt inside with each other.

With my dad, it was even more so, because he rarely talked much, even though he was a pretty easy going guy, but I could never have talked to him about anything I was feeling. 

Though they didn’t show it much with words or touch, my parents cared a lot about me.  I was the baby, by quite a ways, and they spoiled me, even into adulthood.  One time my mom told me, “You’re what makes us stay young.”

I pre-enlisted in the Air Force, just before my college graduation, so I spent a month or so staying with my folks before I actually had to go.  I couldn’t believe it the morning of the day I was to leave when they told me they had a doctor’s appointment out of town and wouldn’t be able to see me off.  My sister-in-law was the one who took me to the bus station that day when I went to join the Air Force.

It wasn’t until many years later that I realized seeing me off to go into the military was just something that was too hard for them to do.  There hadn’t been any doctor’s appointment that day .