Senate to Consider Hate Crimes Legislation

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The U.S. Senate is scheduled to consider hate crimes legislation this week.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear the "Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to testify in support of it.

The legislation is supposed to offer greater protections to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-gendered crime victims.

But critics argue it could lead to charges against those who speak out against homosexuality, like pastors.

The Liberty Counsel is trying to collect more than 100,000 petitions to send to Senators before Thursday's hate crimes hearing.

Matthew Krause is an attorney from the organization.

"All the hate crimes legislation does is penalize people who have thoughts and words that our contrary to what some people might believe," Krause said. "If a pastor was to speak against homosexuality or other social issues and somebody in the congregation that day were to go and commit an act of violence against a homosexual, the pastor in effect could be charged with the crime for citing the hate crime that ensued," he added.

The Liberty Counsel is urging everyone to contact their Congressmen and Senators.

"Tell them this is a bad idea and is not what we need. And also sign petitions -- legislators actually read those and look at those to help form their opinions," Krause said. "So I encourage everyone to go to our Web site -- Liberty Counsel Web site -- sign the petition, but also call your Congressman," he added.

The legislation easily passed the House in April. If it passes the Senate, President Obama is expected to sign it into law.

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