The hate crimes prevention act that was strongly opposed by some Christian conservatives was dropped from a defense bill Thursday.
House Democrats dropped the measure, which extended hate crimes protection to gays and lesbians, because they were worried the defense bill would not pass. Some religious conservatives were initially afraid the bill would infringe on religious liberty.
Groups who opposed the bill included the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and Exodus International. Some leaders were concerned that the bill would prevent pastors from speaking against homosexuality in the pulpit.
Supporters noted that the bill was limited to violent crimes and explicitly contained a provision that says nothing in the bill would prohibit free speech.
"There just doesn't seem to be any evidence that hate crime laws have been used to chill speech, they are really used for action," said Charles Haynes, a senior scholar with ...1