H.R. 1592: Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007

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In January 2007, after the Democrats were elected to a majority of the seats in the United States Congress, Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) introduced the Federal Hate Crime bill H.R. 254 [1] or the David Ray Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. This law would bring a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted or life, if "the acts committed in violation of this paragraph include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill." Critics call it a "thought crimes" bill.

These penalties come into effect if an "actual or perceived" threat occurs. Because it is up to the court to determine how the criminal perceived the "race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or disability, of the victim," it is felt there is the possibility to abuse this law in places where more ordinary harassment or assault charges would suffice.

There are some hypothetical situations where this bill can cause what many would see as unethical penalties.

  1. If two serious assaults were committed against different, but similar, healthy white male young adults, if one were a type of person protected by the legislation, then the criminal who assaulted that person may serve more time.
  2. "Actual or perceived" may cause problems in cases where minor assault would have resulted in a citation, whereas now it may lead to an arrest and conviction.


The Democratic controlled House Judiciary Committee rejected minority amendments to add military personnel, senior citizens, pregnant women who have been battered by their boyfriends and husbands when they become pregnant, and the homeless—all groups which have suffered violence and hate motivated attacks—from the special protected classes defined for inclusion within the bill. In its present form the bill targets free speech and religious leaders who denounce homosexuality as a sin and then could be charged under Federal law with incitement.[1]

Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright expressed concern the bill is intended to give heterosexuals second class citizenship. Wright pointed outm, "Matthew Shepard’s assailants received the same sentence as Mary Stachowicz’s, a grandmother who was brutally murdered by a homosexual man. Victims are — and should be — treated equally in the justice system, regardless of their ‘sexual orientation.’ This ‘hate crimes’ bill would overturn this balance, creating second-class victims and a federal justice system that discriminates against grandmothers, children, women and men simply because they are heterosexual. We cannot imagine that President Bush would sign a bill that would create a two-tiered justice system that discriminates against grandmothers.” [2]


  1. Christian belief a 'hate crime' under plan, WorldNetDaily, March 3, 2007.
  2. CWA Asks President for Veto Pledge on ‘Hate Crimes’ Legislation, May 1, 2007,

See also