The Religious Right generally has two standard explanations for its opposition to hate crimes legislation. The first is that such legislation will outlaw criticism of homosexuality and end up getting pastors tossed into prison. The second is this odd claim that such legislation will somehow provide legal protection to people who engage in bestiality or pedophilia:
The main purpose of this “hate crime” legislation is to add the categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” “either actual or perceived,” as new classes of individuals receiving special protection by federal law. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality on an ever-expanding continuum. Will Congress also protect these sexual orientations-zoophiles, pedophiles or polygamists?
Media Matters catches Pat Robertson raising a similar point, asking if hate crimes legislation will protect “some really weird [person] who likes to have sex with ducks” or little boys:
Considering that the purpose of such legislation is to “provide Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes,” how exactly would such legislation end up protecting pedophiles or zoophiles? Those things remain illegal.
Hate crimes legislation is aimed at, you know, prosecuting hate crimes, and targets anyone who “willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person.”
If you attack someone because they are gay, or because you think they are gay, you are going to get charged with a hate crime.
If you have sex with a duck, you are going to get charged with bestiality.
But what is not going to happen is that people who have sex with ducks are suddenly going to find their behavior “protected” because of the passage of hate crimes legislation. The two things are utterly unrelated.
So the question the Right is really asking is: will you get charged with a hate crime for beating someone up because they had sex with a duck? Probably not, because bestiality is illegal, though you will likely be charged with assault.
Is there some vigilante group of conservative Christians out there taking physical retribution against suspected zoophiles that I am unaware of and whose mission will be fundamentally jeopardized by the passage of this legislation?
Is the Religious Right planning on unleashing a campaign of violent beat-downs of suspected homosexuals at some point in the future that would have to be called off if this legislation passes?
If not, then they need to stop using these sorts of lies and scare-tactics in their opposition to this legislation.