Mat Staver, head of the evangelical nonprofit Liberty Counsel, and perhaps best known as Kim Davis’ lawyer, has criticized The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, which passed unanimously in the Senate, for including LGBTQ people. He is now taking issue with how his comments condemning the legislation have been reported, saying it has led to death threats against himself and his staff.

The bill would add an anti-lynching portion to civil rights law, providing guaranteed sentencing if two or more people “willfully cause bodily injury to any other person because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person.”

“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 One News Now. “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.”

“So far they’ve been unsuccessful over the many years in the past, 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 juggler at some time in the future.”

Staver said his organization is lobbying members of the House to remove the language protecting individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, similar to its successful efforts to get LGBTQ people worker protections removed from a U.S. trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Liberty Counsel has released a statement, saying it is against lynching for all people.

“The bill in question created a list of protected categories, thus limiting the application of the law. Lynching should be prohibited no matter the person’s reason for committing this violent crime,” Staver said.

“Liberty Counsel has received death threats as a direct result of the false media narrative. One person, whose identity is being traced, said ’All LC leaders must die,’” the statement continues. “The media and those with a political axe to grind must exercise caution when reporting or using social media. False reporting endangers lives.”

Hate crimes have been on the rise, with FBI data released in November showing they had risen in 2017 by 17%, and the LGBTQ community was the second most targeted group, behind African Americans.

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