Anti-Lynching Bill Should Not Include Gays, Says Evangelical Group

The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act passed in the U.S. Senate unanimously, making lynching a federal crime -- but one evangelical group is not happy with some of the wording, as they don't think the law should include the LGBTQ community.

NBC says that Liberty Counsel, which is an evangelical grouped chaired by Mat Staver, is against gay rights -- and that the group is disappointed that the bill includes LGBTQ people. Particularly, Staver says that they particularly object to the use of the terms "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" in the wording.

In a recent interview, Staver was blunt when talking about his concerns.

"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. This is a way to slip it in under a so-called anti-lynching bill, and to then to sort of circle the wagon and then go for the juggler [sic] at some time in the future."

Liberty Counsel, which has been labeled anti-LGBTQ and as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, wants lawmakers in the House of Representatives to have the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" removed before a vote is taken.

This is not the first time that Liberty Counsel has lobbied Congress to take the same words out of bills which are up for a vote. Back in November, Staver spoke to a number of politicians about removing "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" from the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.

The Advocate says that the bill was introduced by Democrats Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina. The bill will now come up for a vote in the House.

The bill defines lynching as "if 2 or more persons willfully cause bodily injury to any other person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin … or gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person." Those found guilty of lynching would face a sentence of up to 10 years if the person is injured, and a potential life sentence if someone is killed.

Sexual orientation is mentioned in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, per the Advocate, which was signed into law in 2009 by President Barack Obama. This federal law was the first to use the language objected to by Liberty Counsel, and by Mat Staver.