James Dobson’s Hate Crimes Freak-Out

For anyone tempted to think that James Dobson was about to throw in the towel, concede defeat in the culture wars and retire … well, think again

Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family founder and chairman emeritus, has recorded a special video message for a pro-family event in California …”Now, perhaps more than ever in our nation’s history, it’s crucial that Christians stand up for their faith and for the defense of His Word,” Dr. Dobson says. “I’m convinced that if God’s people do not seek His blessing and mercy, the Church will be tested severely, as if by fire, over the coming weeks and years” …”Yes, the landscape looks bleak right now,” Dr. Dobson says. “(But) citizens can move mountains when they unite in prayer and action. Remember that God is always faithful to hear and respond to the petitions of His people. As you enter this battle, make sure that you put on the full armor of God. 

Here is the video, in which Dobson freaks out about a variety of things, but primarily about hate crimes legislation, declaring “have we gone completely mad?”

 As I’m recording this video greeting, there’s a so-called hate crimes bill that’s working its way through the congress that contains no adequate safeguards to protect the preaching of God’s word. Because the liberals in Congress would not define sexual orientation, we have to assume that protection under the law will be extended to the 30 sexual disorders identified as such by the American Psychiatric Association. Let me read just a few of them: bisexuality, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, sexual masochism, urophilia, voyeurism, and bestiality. Those are just a few. And I have to ask, have we gone completely mad? 

Good as You, Pam, and Towleroad all have more on this video, but I wanted to look at Dobson’s claim that he has to ” assume that protection under the law will be extended to the 30 sexual disorders” identified by the APA.

Of course, he does not “have to assume” anything of the sort – he is choosing to assume this because it is part of an intentional effort by the Religious Right to conflate protections for gays with protections for pedophiles and thus generate opposition to the legislation; a tactic that is being employed by everyone from the American Family Association to the Traditional Values Coalition.

But Dobson is correct that Congress did not define “sexual orientation” in the legislation – and during the mark-up of the legislation [PDF] in the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Tammy Baldwin explained why they didn’t do so and also why they rejected Rep. Steve King’s amendment to explicitly exclude pedophiles from the definition:   

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I move to strike the last word in opposition to this amendment that—well, the gentleman claims that we have not pinned down a definition for sexual orientation. And indeed, in our earlier session yet today, I drew his attention to the fact that there is a definition with regard to the Hate Crimes Statistics Act.

I, during the break, searched to just confirm that what I had articulated earlier today was, indeed, the definition. And it is. Sexual orientation means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality. That is the definition.

Now, as you have noted earlier, there is only one term defined in this legislation. And that is gender identity on page 14. And the reason for that is that that definition exists nowhere else in federal law. This is the first time it is occurring in federal law.

But in every other case, gender, disability, sexual orientation, race, national origin, color and—I am missing one—the architecture of the hate crimes statutes in the United States is those definitions do not lie within that architecture. They exist elsewhere in federal law, and we rely on them. So there is a clear, concise definition of sexual orientation.

Your amendment is unnecessary and also, I would add, inflammatory in terms of insinuations, I would say. But given the definition of sexual orientation meaning consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality, it is absolutely clear that that could not include pedophilia.

Aside from the astute point that King was merely trying to add unnecessary and inflammatory insinuations into the bill, Baldwin pointed out that the term “sexual orientation” was already defined in the “Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990.”  Here is precisely what that legislation says

As used in this section, the term “sexual orientation” means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality. 

Thus, a definition of the term “sexual orientation” is not needed in the hate crimes legislation because it already exists.  And this definition does not cover things like incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, or bestiality, despite all of the Religious Right’s lies and scare-tactics.