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Posted on Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 3:40 p.m.

Ypsilanti pastor among three seeking to have hate crime law declared unconstitutional

By Staff

An Ypsilanti pastor is one of three Michigan pastors who claim a new hate crime law infringes on their First Amendment rights and should be declared unconstitutional.

The pastors, including Levon Yuille (YOOL) of Ypsilanti, filed a lawsuit Tuesday to try to strike down a portion of the federal law, which was signed last fall.

The law expands federal hate crimes to those committed against people because of sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. The pastors believe they could be targeted for their sermons against gay lifestyles.

But supporters of the law say it's aimed at acts of violence, not speech by clergy.

The other pastors are Jim Combs of Waterford and Rene Ouellette (oo-LET') of Bridgeport. A fourth plaintiff is Gary Glenn, head of the American Family Association of Michigan.

The lawsuit is in federal court in Bay City.



Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 2:02 p.m.

I agree with's like the old saying "Sticks and stones, etc" words do not cause harm unless people allow them to. If you don't agree with the sermons and beliefs, don't go to that church...but words are just that words.

Lisa Bashert

Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 10:19 a.m.

I find it ironic and sad that those who see themselves as preachers of a loving God need to engage in this kind of repression. I wonder at the tenaciousness of haters like Gary Glenn and Rec. Yuille, when all around them society is becoming more accepting of diversity (including gay people) -- cf the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. How far we've come! But these people are stuck in an ugly, fearful, rigid, narrow-minded past.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 9:50 a.m.

Maybe someone should explain to them that to have a Hate Crime one must commit a crime. Not just be hateful. You know assault or murder or destruction of property. So unless the preachers and their flocks are gay bashing in teh middle of the night they have nothing to worry about. So are they stupid or planning?

Matthew R.

Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 8:40 a.m.

It's nice to hear that church resources (time and money) are being spent on this lawsuit instead of something frivolous like disaster relief or helping local families dealing with unemployment.

David Briegel

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 10:18 p.m.

Or is it Ignorant Arrogance?

Steve in MI

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 9:17 p.m.

The question isn't about free speech - Rev. Yuille and his ilk are free to say what they like, and always will be. The question is whether an unlawful motive can constitutionally be treated as an aggravating factor in prosecuting and (also-) unlawful act. Should cutting someone and leaving a wound in the shape of a racist symbol be considered a more egregious crime than simply cutting someone? Should burning a cross in someone's yard be a more serious offense than just setting an equal-size fire in a yard? I think that there is a rational argument for prosecuting a demonstrably oppresive motive as an aggravating factor. Rev Yuille probably would as well, but for the fact that SOME of the "oppressed" are considered "sinful" in the theology he preaches. Rev. Yuille is welcome to preach whatever he wants. But the civil courts are under NO obligation to change civil law to conform to his theology.

David Briegel

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 8:49 p.m.

The Association of American Taliban Preachers! They must be Gods punishment of us for allowing such lunacy to be given any credible visibility in our main stream discussions! Having said that, I will defend their First Amendment right to say any stupid thing they wish. Me and the ACLU! I remember when my minister taught us "Blessed are the false prophets". Imagine the sheer ignorance of believing that people would choose to be a member of a persecuted minority. Pure Arrogant Ignorance!


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 8 p.m.

Personally, I'm curious what the in-house style guide has to say about pronunciation hints. Unfortunately, they don't clarify how to pronounce "Jm" but from other sources I'm guessing it sounds like "James."


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 7:20 p.m.

Since this is about actual crimes and not speech, they have no reason to be concerned. But they are concerned, because they know that their hate-preaching could very well inspire violence against gay people. No matter how they try to couch it, there can be no other justification for their opposing the protection of any fellow human against violence, except for hatred.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 7:08 p.m.

James, the difference is the Klan is not a tax exempt organization(supported by the government). Hate speech from the Klan is very different than hate speech from the church. The government(taxpayers) supports the church. Until the Klan and the church are on equal footing, their opinions are not equal. Just because a large portion of the population believes in a bearded man in the clouds who judges us does not make it right. A large portion of the population in the 60's believed that minorities were inferior and undeserving of equal rights. Was that acceptible? Hate is hate! Regardless of the idiot who spews it! All hate speech should be allowed, but none of it should be given any validity.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 6:47 p.m.

All these pastors are not living by the Bible. Does it not say judge not least you be judged?


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 6:32 p.m.

The constitutionality of the law does not turn on whether you like what these ministers say or not. The constitution protects a speakers right to speak his beliefs regardless of the content. This is why Klan rallies are protected by the Constitution even though a huge number of Americans would find them extremely offensive and objectionable. Any other result would allow the political whim of the day to stifle what you or I have to say on any subject. Before we are too quick to complain that we have no sympathy for these ministers, we need to put ourselves in their shoes. What is it that we believe strongly in and want to be able to discuss publicly? Do you want somebody in Lansing or Washington to be able, by simple legislation, to decide that you are prohibited from discussing that issue anymore? The answer is probably no, but that is precisely what we allow when we condone legislation that governs the content of speech.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 5:43 p.m.

Still in 2010, religion is still used to show hate against people. Religion has nothing to do with what this country is founded on. We were given the right to worship any god we choose or not worship. But the religion aspect wa always to be kept out of the laws, religion should not guide the law makers. Everyone diserves the right to freedom, saftey, and the right to live their life without government interferance.

A Pretty Ann Arbor

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 5:22 p.m.

cinnabar7071 - at least one of the above preachers I know and he DOES PREACH HATE!

A Pretty Ann Arbor

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 5:21 p.m.

I grew up with one of these "pastors" named above - he learned hate from the minister before him and years of it being "indoctrinated" into his brain. I quit that church because of the hatred not only to gays but towards anyone that challenged their authority. They hated me because I divorced my husband that was cheating on me...apparently the bible indicates he can divorce me but not the other way around. Hatred and fear are some of the ways these churches keep people in line. It is sad that their children are now being "indoctrinated" as well. Hopefully as the children grow up - they will be able to have a mind of their own, not just what some "pastor" tells them they should think like. So sad to think that it has come to this...the world is a much better place when we accept others for who they are. Despite what the "pastors" say - very few people decide to become gay, they are born that way just the same way people are born with red or blonde hair. I always ask them if they believe it is a choice - when they decided to be straight or only attracted to blondes or redheads? They usually look at me funny and say that is just they way they is the same for those that love someone of the same sex, it is just who they are. Most gay people I know wouldn't make a choice to be openly and hatefully discriminated against. I agree with "Cash's" comment - it is sad that religion divides people, kill's people all in the name of a God. So so sad!


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 5:18 p.m.

Linda Diane Feldt I don't think the Pastors are preaching hate, but a better way of life, at least the way they see it. Just because somebody has a different point of view doesn't make it hate. You may feel like it's hate, but it's just a different point of view then you have. Not Hate.

Linda Diane Feldt

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 4:58 p.m.

Free speech is still protected. This bill doesn't stop people from sharing their opinion. But if you are fighting for the right to preach hatred of others, I think you are in the wrong business.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 4:57 p.m.

Isn't it sad how religion is used to divide people, and even to kill people....all in the name of God, or whatever they call their supreme being?