Groups Unite Nationally Against Hate Crimes Bill

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Conservative pro-family groups are bringing attention to hate crimes legislation moving through the Senate.

Thursday marked national "Stop S. 909 Day"-- named after the Senate bill that aims to protect homosexuals against discrimination.

Critics warn if it passes, opponents of the law could end up being the ones persecuted.

To contact your representative and senator about the hate crimes bill, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your senators' and/or representative's office.

Click play for comments from attorney Hans Von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation on other efforts to stop the hate crimes bill from being passed.

Just this week, Houston fire station 54 became the scene of what's being called a hate crime. One of the intended targets of the racially-charged graffiti was an African-American female firefighter.

"We view them as very serious, not as a violation of the rules and regulations of the Houston Fire Department," said Chief Phil Boriskie. "We view this as criminal."

Under current laws, crimes committed on the basis of race, religion or national origin constitute what's called a "hate crime" and carries stiffer penalties.

Legislation now making its way through the Senate would add the same level of protection to gays, lesbians and transgendered victims.

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint told CBN News news he believes the bill has less to do with hate than supporting and protecting homosexuality.

"No one supports hate, and I don't want to suggest that, but we don't want laws that differentiate between someone hurting your child versus my child because they might be of a different race or a different sex," he said.

Others like DeMint fear the legislation would deny civil and religious liberties, and open the door to pastors being prosecuted for preaching homosexuality is a sin.

Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder told lawmakers the law is intended to prevent violence, not inhibit speech. Still, similar laws in other countries like Canada and Sweden already have.

DeMint says he is trying to delay a vote as long as possible and urges people of faith to take a stand now before it's too late.

"We know if we get a call from one person that there are likely thousands of people who feel the same way who just don't call. So it makes an impact," he said.

Supporters say the law is needed because when one person is the target of a hate crime, the entire community may also feel at risk.

There's a lot of support on Capitol Hill. The House passed its version in April and majority leader Sen. Harry Reid says he wants the Senate to pass the bill before Congress goes on recess in August.

Lawmakers plan to lump the bill in with the Defense Spending Bill which may make it even more difficult for opponents to block.

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