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Michigan Ministers Sue To Stop US Hate Crime Law

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CINCINNATI (AP) - A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati is taking up the claim of three Michigan ministers that a federal hate crime law infringes on their First Amendment rights and should be declared unconstitutional.

Oral arguments are scheduled Wednesday.

The law expands federal hate crimes to those committed against people because of sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

The ministers say they could be targeted for their sermons against gay behavior. The law’s supporters say it’s aimed at acts of violence, not speech by clergy.

A lower court judge dismissed the lawsuit last year.

The ministers are Jim Combs of Waterford, Rene Ouellette of Bridgeport and Levon Yuille of Ypsilanti. Another plaintiff is Gary Glenn, head of the American Family Association of Michigan.

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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