House Democrats have included a completely unrelated "hate crimes" bill to the annual defense authorization act, and are using legislation meant to protect our soldiers to push this unconstitutional bill forward, Congressman John Carter (R-TX) said today.
"With 52,000 soldiers honorably stationed at Fort Hood in my district, I completely understand and support the mission and health of our nation's soldiers," Carter said. "But the fact that Democrats are hiding behind those soldiers to push their unconstitutional agenda for perceived hate crimes forward is disgraceful to our military."
The legislation authorizes more than $550.2 billion for standard operations of the national security programs, as well as $130 billion for funding ongoing military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
And while the legislation includes many positive items, including pay raises and new equipment, it should not contain certain provisions that give the federal government the authority to determine what constitutes a "hate crime."
"With 20 years on the bench as a criminal judge, if hate crimes legislation is what we want in America, we should go forward independently on a hate crimes bill and stop using the American soldier as an excuse," Carter said.
The included hate crime legislation increases federal authority for criminal investigations that are thought to be motivated by perceived prejudice based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. It is a very broad legislation and also has implications on religious freedoms and freedom of speech.
FBI statistics show that the incidence of hate crimes has actually declined over the last ten years. Only nine of approximately 17,000 (0.05 percent) homicides in the nation involved so-called hate crimes. There is zero evidence that states are not fully prosecuting violent crimes involving hate. In fact, 45 states and the District of Columbia already have statutes criminalizing various types of bias-motivated violence or intimidation.
"I believe every victim is entitled to be protected under the law no matter what they do and who they are," Carter said. "These are issues that should be discussed but not at the expense of the military in a 'must pass' bill."