Three Michigan pastors do not have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Hate Crimes Act a court ruled Thursday.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled that the Christian ministers had not established standing to challenge the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which offers harsher punishments for individuals who commit violent acts on individuals due to their sexual orientation.
The court upheld a previous ruling that found the law constitutional. Opponents of the law argued the legislation outlawed “thought crimes” and was meant to “eradicate religious beliefs opposing the homosexual agenda.” The suit was first filed in February 2010 by the conservative Thomas More Law Center, a few months after President Barack Obama signed the law in October 2009. It cited Bible passages and George Orwell’s Animal Farm, claiming the law treated certain individuals “more equal than others.”
But the appeals court found that the plaintiffs had “not alleged any actual intent” to cause bodily injury to any gay individuals, pointing out that the pastors explicitly denounced “crimes of violence perpetrated against innocent individuals.”
Even if they quoted Leviticus 20:13, which called for men who have sex with one another to be put to death, “they have not alleged any intention to do more than merely quote it,” which wouldn’t be unlawful under the Hate Crimes Act, the appeals court ruled.