It is appalling and ironic that "a coalition of evangelical, fundamentalist and black religious leaders" staunchly opposes the expansion of hate crimes laws to cover crimes based on sexual orientation ("Christian leaders oppose bill on hate," May 4).
The bill passed in the House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote of 237-180, with all Maryland representatives except Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett voting for the measure.
Among the arguments cited to explain the opposition to the legislation was the fact that the bill didn't include such groups as U.S. soldiers and rich kids, and therefore should not cover victims of hate crimes motivated by the victims' sexual orientation.
That is a ridiculous red herring. The opposition to the bill is really all about the obvious homophobia of its foes.
The latest FBI statistics, for 2005, indicate that hate crimes based on sexual orientation ranked third among all categories of hate crimes, behind only crimes motivated by the race and the religion of the victims.
The fact that one out of six victims of hate crimes is victimized because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity clearly demonstrates that hate crimes laws need to be expanded to cover such crimes.
Nobody has been able to point to any documented message from Jesus Christ in which he condemned homosexuality.
Instead, Jesus promoted tolerance and acceptance of all mankind.
What would Jesus say to these Christian leaders' opposition to the hate crimes bill?