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Bigots sue to block hate crimes law
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Bigots sue to block hate crimes law

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A group of four anti-Gay religious leaders has filed suit to overturn the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

The complaint was filed in the US District Court for Eastern Michigan on February 2.

The plaintiffs in the suit are American Family Association-Michigan President Gary Glenn, Ypsilanti Bible Church pastor Levon Yuille, Bridgeport First Baptist Church pastor Rene Ouellette, and James Combs, pastor of four different Michigan churches.

Each plaintiff is described in the complaint as "a devout Christian."

The defendant named in the suit is US Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. Holder is charged with enforcing the Hate Crimes Act.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from the Thomas Moore Law Center, which describes itself as "a not-for-profit public interest law firm dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life."

The Thomas Moore Law Center (TMLC) was founded in 1999 by Domino's Pizza owner Tom Monaghan. Its co-founder, president, and chief counsel is Richard Thompson, one-time prosecutor of Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

"Plaintiffs challenge Section 249(a)(2) of the Hate Crimes Act, which criminalizes so-called 'bias' crimes motivated by a person's 'actual or perceived' 'sexual orientation' or 'gender identity' and thus elevates those engaged in certain deviant sexual behaviors to a special, protected class of persons under federal law," the complaint says.

It goes on to allege that "supporters of the homosexual agenda seek to demonize, vilify, and criminalize deeply held religious beliefs that are in opposition to their agenda."

TMLC Chief Counsel Thompson elaborated on these allegations in a statement to reporters.

"This is part of the list of political payoffs to homosexual advocacy groups for support of Barack Obama in the last presidential election," Thompson said. "The sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin."

Essentially, plaintiffs claim the Hate Crimes Act makes it illegal for them to preach against homosexuality and therefore infringes on their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.

While the plaintiffs advance six "claims for relief" based on these alleged violations of their constitutional rights, they do not show that they have suffered any harm whatsoever from the passage or operation of the federal Hate Crimes Act.

None of the plaintiffs has ever been charged under the Act. None of them has ever been named by any LGBT person as a perpetrator of hate crimes.

In fact, the "Statement of Facts" in their complaint begins with a three-page essay on "God's Word on Homosexuality." It goes on to allege that LGBT activists have accused unnamed "leaders of the so-called Christian right and their political allies" with instigating and approving hate crimes.

On the other hand, the Hate Crimes Act itself contains explicit exemptions that address the free speech and freedom of religion concerns the plaintiffs raise in their suit.

"Nothing in this division 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 to the Constitution of the United States and peaceful picketing or demonstration," the Act says.

TMLC has a history of suing Obama administration officials. They have previously filed suit against US Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner to prevent AIG - as a recipient of federal bailout money - from offering sharia-compliant insurance products to Muslim customers.

Sharia law forbids Muslims from paying or being paid interest, so special financial instruments need to be written to comply with those limitations.

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