Last month, the Senate approved a bill that would finally make lynching a federal crime, centuries after repeated and failed attempts.
As CNN reported on December 19, the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act passed unanimously. The bill was sponsored by the chamber’s three African-American senators: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC).
But some aren’t happy with the language inside the bill, namely the evangelical law firm Liberty Counsel, who argue that the bill provides “special rights” for LGBT people.
Speaking to the Christian news outlet OneNewsNow, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver said lawmakers tried to sneak in the LGBT protections in a bill that also protects ethnic and religious groups.
“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,” Staver told OneNewsNow. “And this would be the first time that you would have in federal law mentioning gender identity and sexual orientation as part of this anti-lynching bill.”
Staver said that lawmakers are using an emotionally charged bill to as a “back door approach” to pass legislation such as the controversial Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
“So far they’ve been unsuccessful over the many years in the past,” Staver said. “but 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 [jugular] at some time in the future.”
According to Staver, his organization is currently lobbying to have lawmakers remove the LGBT protections from the bill.
The Liberty Counsel has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and has a long history of anti-gay activism. Staver represented former Kentucky clerk Kim Davis before and after her jail stint for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In November, the group asked Congress to remove language about “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” discrimination from a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.
In January of last year, Staver falsely claimed that medical workers responding to the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub were traumatized because they had to “get tested for AIDS-related conditions” due to the blood at the scene.