Monday, March 29, 2010

Bigotry follies

Back in October President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard Act which added "perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability" to the 1969 federal hate crimes law. While some saw this as a long overdue addition to our legal code, others saw this as a trampling of free speech. I mean sure, this only is for violent acts of murder, assault, intimidation, and terrorism, but what about those who fear that this might affect them or their churches ability to bash an demonize gays? The law says that isn't going to happen, but can't people just whine about it anyway as some sort of flimsy pretext for stripping protection for gays from state law? Sure they can.

Such was the case in Oklahoma, where they didn't buy into this notion that gays are people too, so they set off to seriously de-gay their hate crimes laws. HOW DARE YOU REFER TO THEM AS OKLAHOMO! So they decided to write a bill that tried to severely hamstring those rights under state law and not allow state or local authorities to report or share hate crimes information with the feds pertaining to Title 18 U.S. Code Section 245. That's where the problem began.
Protections for sexual orientation and gender identity are actually under Section 249.
Section 245 of the Code refers to race and religious protections. Therefore, Oklahoma actually passed a statute allowing state law enforcement officials to keep information about crimes motivated by race or religion out of the hands of federal authorities.

“The bill in its current form doesn’t take away rights from gays and lesbians,” Oklahoma State Senate Minority Leader Andrew Rice explained. “It takes away rights for religion and race.”
I'm sure the race protections being stripped out was just a happy accident, but they'll be hopping mad about religious persecution being stripped out. That's what this whole thing was pretending to be about in the first place. First they try to knock out protections for violence against gays based on "uhhhh.... religion and stuff" (caution: legal terminology), but end up stripping hate crime protection from religion. It's almost as if God was trying to tell them something about hate and using religious cover as a pretext for bigotry. Or He was at least trying to make a point about the general stupidity of state lawmakers and reading comprehension levels in Oklahoma.

Well done Oklahoma, we do love a good petard self-hoisting. Quit while you're ahead, otherwise you'll have legalized murder by the end of the week.

No comments: