Some Christian groups are again this year raising the spectre that the bill, if enacted, would infringe the right of Christian ministers to oppose homosexuality. For example, Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern, called the bill "a backdoor tool from the far left and radical homosexuals to shut down legitimate free speech from Christians and others who oppose their lifestyle." ICC argued that the federal aiding and abetting statute (18 USC 2) could allow prosecution of those "who teach that homosexual behavior is sinful and that Islam is a false religion." A release issued by Americans United this week counters the argument, saying:
The bill penalizes assault and physical violence, not speech. In fact, the legislation makes it clear that free speech is protected. Section 10 states, "Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution."UPDATE: CQ reports that on Thursday (4/23), the House Judiciary Committee approved the Hate Crimes bill by a vote of 15-12. The Committee defeated more than a dozen proposed Republican amendments to the bill.