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      Mid-Michigan religious leaders challenge hate crimes law

      Some mid-Michigan religious leaders say a new law limits their liberty.

      The president of the American Family Association of Michigan in Midland, along with a Bridgeport Township pastor, say the hate crimes act is unconstitutional and prohibits their right of free speech.

      They say, the law could be used against them for saying homosexuality is a sin.

      Gary Glenn is the president of the American Family Association of Michigan. He says, "We filed a lawsuit to protect religions free speech rights of individuals who want to continue to speak out for their religious values."

      The lawsuit was filed through the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor. It lists Gary Glenn, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Township Rene B. Ouellette, the pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Waterford Township Jim Combs, and the pastor of Bible Church in Ypsilanti Levon R. Yuille as plaintiffs and Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General, as the defendant.

      The plaintiffs say the hate crimes act is unconstitutional.

      A 2005 Saginaw News article quotes Jeffrey Montgomery, the executive director of the Triangle Foundation, a homosexual activist group in Detroit, as saying crimes against homosexuals are on the rise. He says "The vocal anti-gay activists should be held accountable as accessories to these crimes because, many times, it is their rhetoric that led the perpetrators to believe that their crimes are ok."

      Glenn says, "Everybody should be protected from violence, but everybody should also be free to express their religious or political views without fear of prosecution by people who want to silence those who disagree with the homosexual political agenda."

      The Triangle Foundation says, the reaction is out of anger and fear. It says positive images of gays on television shows, along with the issues of gay marriage and civil rights are getting fundamentalists worked up.

      Glenn disagrees, he says the law prefers one group over another. He says, "Under this so called hate crimes law, a criminal that attacks a pregnant woman, or a child, or a senior citizen would be punished less severely than someone who attacks a grown man if that grown man is involved in the homosexual lifestyle. That's not equality under the law."

      It's a debate of liberty and law to be decided in court.

      The lawsuit was filed last Tuesday. The U.S. attorney general has 60 days to respond.

      On the Net: Copy of lawsuit

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