In light of yesterday’s decision by the Canadian government to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the country, a prominent Catholic analyst is warning that similar laws being debated in the U.S. and the so-called “hate crime” laws which preceded them threaten to undermine the family and the Church.
Deal Hudson, former editor of ‘Crisis’ magazine, wrote in the on-line magazine, ‘The Window’ Monday, that the situation was becoming so volatile in Canada that “Catholic priests…are on the verge of being arrested for not marrying homosexuals.”
Citing numerous examples of Christians under fire for their stance against homosexuality, he wrote that, “You don't have to commit an act of violence in Canada to be guilty of a hate crime. You only have to be guilty of publicly inciting hatred (Section 319). The law states further that if you make statements in a public place which incite hatred against an identifiable group in such a way that there will likely be a breach of the peace, you can be arrested.”
Hudson warns that the U.S. may not be far behind, and explores possible ramifications of new hate crimes legislation introduced into the House and Senate this year.
Seeking to alter the 1968 U.S. hate crimes laws, which cover only acts of violence, he says that “the new bill, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Act of 2005 (H.R. 2662), introduced by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) in the Senate and Rep John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) in the House, adds sexual orientation, gender and disability to the categories covered under the existing law.
“Thus far,” Hudson wrote, “religious groups have succeeded in rallying Congress to defeat these potential threats to expressions of religious faith. But this new bill claims to have solved the problem.”
He notes that the bill “has even received the good housekeeping seal of approval from the ACLU,” citing ACLU legislative counsel, Christopher E. Anders, who said recently; "This carefully crafted measure shows that you can prosecute hate crimes without attacking freedom of expression.”
Quoting a subsection of the new bill however, Hudson notes that while it basically states: “whatever a defendant has said, or whatever groups he has belonged to, cannot be presented as evidence in a trial,” it contains a built-in qualification which could prove destructive.
This qualification applies, he says, “Unless the evidence specifically relates to that offense then both expression and association can be brought to bear on the case of a hate crime. Judges will decide what evidence is relevant.”
Hudson doesn’t think it will take much to convince the public that this bill is a bad idea. “All it would take”, he says, “is a judge deciding that Catholic teaching on homosexuality is necessarily relevant as evidence in the trial of any practicing Catholic who commits a hate crime. The precedent would be set until overturned or confirmed on appeal.”
For those who don’t think the kind of religious hostility that Canada is facing could happen here, Hudson points to this weeks confusing Supreme Court Ten Commandments ruling.
He quotes Justice Antonin Scalia on this point who, “in his dissent said the ruling was not grounded in a "consistently applied principle," and challenged the majority to consider "what distinguishes the rule of law from the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority.…”
“This kind of decision”, Hudson wrote, “could provide a federal precedent for the kind of actions now being prosecuted in Canada's Human Rights Tribunals and its hate crimes units.”