Hate crimes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 17, 2007

Let&8217;s not sugarcoat what happened in the Alabama House of Representatives last week. Personal prejudices got the better of a majority of our representatives as they voted against expanding the state&8217;s hate crimes bill to include protection for sexual orientation.

House Minority Leader Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, gave a flimsy excuse for why the bill failed.

True. But the state passed a hate crimes bill in 1994 that increased penalties for certain crimes when they were carried out in relation to the victim&8217;s race, religion or nationality.

Email newsletter signup

Why? Because bigotry breeds hate, and hate can breed violence. Hate crime laws set apart crimes committed out of hatred from those committed out of greed or even personal vendetta. It is a way to put a check on society and send a message that not only will the violence not be tolerated but neither will the bigotry.

But undoubtedly, bigotry over sexual orientation is allowed in Alabama, and a majority of our representatives have said so.

But we don&8217;t believe Hubbard&8217;s excuse. It seems more probable that our legislators voted as they did because of personal religious beliefs about homosexuality.

We respect the belief that some religious dominations have concerning homosexuality and it being a sin. But this is not a &8220;Christian&8221; doctrine. While some denominations are wholesale against homosexuality, some denominations tolerate and even accept homosexuality.

Furthermore, persona religious beliefs should not be the ruling factor in crafting policy. Our lawmakers should craft policy in the best interest of the people. In this case, our leaders failed at doing so.

Instead, they let personal prejudices override what would have been sound policy.