ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL -- (House of Representatives - April 30, 2009)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Kansas (Mr. Tiahrt) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. TIAHRT. Madam Speaker, yesterday the House passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, H.R. 1913.
The bill reminds me of a passage from George Orwell's book, ``Animal Farm,'' where he wrote, ``All animals are equal. Some animals are more equal than others.''
Under this legislation, all people are equal. Some people are more equal than others. This bill attempts to create a new class of people with a new category of punishment that is determined by the thoughts and words, as well as other actions. It's based on the premise of a hate crime, a hate crime.
If one assumes there is hate crimes, isn't it logical to assume that there is just the opposite, love crimes?
Well, the concept of love crimes doesn't hold, and neither should the concept of a special class of citizens created by hate crimes. But it is true that crimes are committed. And if you are a victim of crime, whether it is motivated by hate, greed, envy or whatever the driving force is, you, as a victim, deserve equal justice under the law.
Equal justice under the law is an old and very well accepted concept in America. Where we are a Nation of equals, a Nation of men and women who bow to no man, to no king, we should expect equal treatment under the law, equal justice.
This legislation places into the judicial system and into the hands of a jury the determination of the thoughts of the criminal and the responsibility to determine were these actions different if the victim has a certain sexual orientation?
However, the term sexual orientation is not defined. This is very vague. But the term gender identity is defined as actual or perceived gender-related characteristics, perceived. This is also very vague.
In fact, the whole legislation is so vague that a minister today, reading aloud the book of Corinthians from the New Testament, could be prosecuted because it could be perceived as inciting violence. Whatever happened to free speech in the first amendment?
The amendments could have been offered to clarify some of the passages but were rejected by the Democrats. Amendments were offered in the Judiciary Committee to extend special victims status to veterans, the elderly and pregnant women. All were rejected. No amendments were allowed on the floor.
Madam Speaker, I believe this legislation is, in fact, unconstitutional, violating the freedom of expression and equal protection under the law. I fear for this Nation as Congress continues to ignore and abuse the foundation and the principles that built this great Nation.