Not that they're opposed to banning lynching, Liberty Counsel swears -- they just don't want LGBTQ people to appear as a protected class in any federal legislation ever.
Marilyn Drew Necci | January 11, 2019
It’s not often that the Senate passes a bill unanimously, especially in today’s bitterly divided political climate. And yet it does happen occasionally, and it did last month, when everyone in the Senate at the time voted to approve the Justice for Victims Of Lynching Act.
And yet, all is not well in the halls of Congress, as one lobbying group, Liberty Counsel, is working to remove LGBTQ victims from the list of groups covered by the legislation. It’s the principle of the thing, you see.
“The old saying is once that camel gets the nose in the tent, you can’t stop them from coming the rest of the way in,” said Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver in an interview with OneNewsNow. “And this would be the first time that you would have in federal law mentioning gender identity and sexual orientation as part of this anti-lynching bill.”
Liberty Counsel doesn’t like this bill’s coverage of LGBTQ lynching victims because it doesn’t like seeing any federal legislation that offers specific rights for LGBTQ people. According to OneNewsNow, Liberty Counsel sees this as a “back door approach” to pave the way for bills with more comprehensive pro-LGBTQ protections.
Which offers as much explanation as we can reasonably expect for opposing a bill that is largely symbolic, even according to its creators. “This bill will right historical wrongs by acknowledging our country’s stained past and codifying into law our commitment to abolishing this shameful practice,” said Senator Cory Booker in a statement. Booker, along with Senators Kamala Harris and Tim Scott, proposed this law mainly to change the fact that, for over 100 years, Congress has been unable to pass an anti-lynching law.
“From 1882 to 1986 there have been 200 attempts that have failed to get Congress to pass federal anti-lynching legislation,” said Harris in a statement. “It’s time for that to change.”
In the late 19th and early 20th century, “states’ rights” was often used as a dodge against passing a federal anti-lynching law. Generally these campaigns were led by Southern states where the highest rates of lynching took place. When federal laws came up for vote, Southern Senators waged a filibuster campaign to stop them. According to a report from Equal Justice Initiative, Southern states at the time “passed their own anti-lynching laws to demonstrate that federal legislation was unnecessary, but refused to enforce them.”
In 2005, the Senate released a formal apology for not having ever passed an anti-lynching law. Booker, Harris, and Scott are working with House members in the Congressional Black Caucus to get an equivalent bill passed by both houses of Congress and onto President Trump’s desk.
The bill enjoys widespread support from both major parties; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has stated on the record that he’d support the bill. It seems only Liberty Counsel — who, by the way, have been designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — has a problem with it, and only because it would count LGBTQ people as possible victims of lynching.
Since word has broken of Liberty Counsel’s stance, they’ve taken to social media complaining that people are unfairly saying they oppose outlawing lynching. In a statement, they claim to have received death threats. In the statement, Staver says, “No one can or should oppose a bill that bans lynching. We oppose lynching across the board for any person. Period!”
He followed that up with, “The bill in question created a list of protected categories, thus limiting the application of the law. Lynching should be prohibited no matter the person’s reason for committing this violent crime.” But of course, this once again points to the agenda Liberty Counsel’s opposition to this law has demonstrated from the beginning — ensuring that LGBTQ people, who are more likely to be victimized due to their LGBTQ status, aren’t any more or less protected than anyone else. Where hate-crimes legislation is concerned, it appears this group is trying very hard to miss the point.
Message to Liberty Counsel: You’re not fooling anyone.