Foes of 'Hate Crimes' Bill Making Memphis a "Laughingstock," Cohen Charges

| August 08, 2007
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- jb

Lashing back at a group of Memphis clergymen who have made an issue of his vote for pending Hate Crimes legislation, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen said his critics have made Memphis "a laughing-stock" among his congressional colleagues -- notably members of the Congressional Black Caucus, most of whom back the measure.

Speaking to a luncheon of the Memphis Kiwanis Club at The Peabody on Wednesday, Cohen specifically cited statements of personal support from such African-American civil rights veterans as Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers of Michigan and John Lewis of Georgia.

The congressman singled out the Rev. LaSimba Gray, a politically active minister, as the moving force behind the protest of his vote, which took place back in May. "He didn’t want me to run last year," said Cohen of Gray, who sought to find a consensus black candidate for the 9th District seat won by Cohen. The congressman noted further that Gray also expressed opposition, on racial grounds, when the then state senator first ran for the seat in 1996. "He thought it should be a 'black seat.'"

Cohen insisted that the bill, passed by the House and awaiting action in the Senate, does nothing more than apply additional criminal sanctions against violent acts undertaken against homosexuals and other specifically targeted groups, not against expression itself.

"Pastors can preach against anybody they want to so long as they aren’t beating up on somebody while they’re doing it," he said. "Nobody’s ever been arrested for preaching. This is the United States of America," adding, "Some preachers don't understand Dr. [Martin Luther] King."

In the course of his remarks, Cohen also defended his vote, as he only House Democrat doing so, against labor-backed legislation that would remove FedEx ground workers from provisions of the Railway Labor Act and make the giant Memphis-based carrier more vulnerable to local strike actions.

On another matter, Cohen noted that he himself had voted against amendments to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that allowed relatively arbitrary wiretapping decisions by the Attorney General. But he said other Democrats had been maneuvered into voting for the amendments when the administration made an effort -- clearly regarded as questionable by Cohen -- to link the vote to possible imminent action by Al Quaeda.

Comments (13)

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If anyone wants to know what is motivating LaSimba Gray, they should take a drive to Tupelo and visit Donald Wildmon and his sham American Family Association. Follow the money. Mr. Gray is on the payroll and is being used as a tool to get black people into the Republican party.

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Posted by Billl Smith on 08/08/2007 at 9:57 PM

I hope Mr. Cohen is enjoying his single term in office.

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Posted by Timothy Houser on 08/08/2007 at 11:00 PM

TTH, it may be the first, but it won;t be the last. No one's voting for that Alabama carpetbagger, not unless they are stone-cold haters.

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Posted by Steve Steffens on 08/09/2007 at 12:35 AM

So black voters in Memphis now know that Congressman Cohen believes that being a black person is the same as sodomizing or being sodomized by the same sex.

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Posted by Jay Smithers on 08/09/2007 at 8:57 AM

Yes, do follow the money. Follow how much money Conyers has received from homosexual groups to sell out his constituents.

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Posted by Jay Smithers on 08/09/2007 at 8:58 AM

The relevant equasion here is in the title of the legislation: it is a bill that strengthens the law against HATE CRIMES. Cohen is voting against HATE CRIMES. Whether they are perpetrated against women for being women, Hispanics for being Hispanics, Muslims for being Muslim, or heterosexuals for being heterosexuals. Jesus, by the way, was anti-hate too. He preached tirelessly against the so-called "righteous Jews'" practices of discriminating against, excluding and de-humanizing those who were different, or who had sinned in the eyes of the "righteous". Steve Cohen has always stood to protect the rights and dignity of all minorities. His record is consistent and grounded in principle. Bravo, Steve!

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Posted by Caroline Love on 08/09/2007 at 10:02 AM

JayS must have one giant chip. Hey - dude, if you're following the $$$$, check into how many millions the haters i.e. (pumped up x-tian radicals) have given to every GOPer. But watch out, because it will blow your little mind.

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Posted by Billl Smith on 08/09/2007 at 10:09 AM

I assume everyone can read. The following is from the bill in question: SEC. 8. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION. Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution. That should end this discussion.

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Posted by Martin D. Cohen on 08/09/2007 at 10:38 AM

In 2003, there were 3,844 racially motivated hate crimes. Of those, 2,548 were committed against blacks. The number of hate crimes against blacks is just over twice the 1,244 committed against gays. It's not about equating blacks with gays. It's about punishing violence committed against people who deserve to live their lives in peace. The hate crimes bill in question does not stop preachers from saying anything against homosexuals from the pulpit--- That's a myth that's being spread by a right wing group called Focus on the Family. The only thing a minister cannot do from the pulpit is encourage violence against gays, and if he could do that, he's not exactly a man of God.

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Posted by Rick Maynard on 08/09/2007 at 10:59 AM

those poor homosexuals. I bet after the debate on LOGO last night, the Democrat candidates went to fundraisers where they raised 100's od dollars. But its those big wealthy people who don't want homosexuals to marry each other that are spending the big money, definitely not the Geffen's and other homosexuals. Oh no, the only money motivated folks are those that oppose homosexuality. But, you see when in reality the pro-homo crowd raises multi-millions for their Democratic candidates, they aren't buying votes, it's just the anti-homo crowd that is buying votes.

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Posted by Jay Smithers on 08/10/2007 at 9:36 AM

The religous nut/right wing taliban crowd sure is concerned with the homos, to the exclusion of every other kind of "sin," aren't they? Makes you wonder... Hey, why don't they put James Dobson and Don Wildmon behind a campaign to outlaw divorce among Southern Baptists???

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Posted by Mike Jones on 08/10/2007 at 12:18 PM

I do support more funding for psychological treatment for people who were molested and did not receive proper treatment and in their adult lives acted out on homosexual impulses. We do need more funding and research on the link between being molested as a child and choosing to act out on homosexual impulses. No need for "religious" treatment here, these people need real help.

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Posted by Jay Smithers on 08/11/2007 at 11:35 AM

Memphis will be the laughingstock if the forked tongue Alabama carpetbagger gets elected

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Posted by Brian Ervin on 08/11/2007 at 7:19 PM
Showing 1-13 of 13

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