December 06, 2007
'Deeply disappointed' over Shepard
Posted by: Chris
TWO UPDATES: At the end of this post.
The Human Rights Campaign has issued a statement calling the removal of the hate crimes bill "deeply disappointing" -- wording that is somewhat eerie for me only because I wrote the exact same thing in my post a few hours ago. Joe Solmonese also echoed my hope that congressional Democrats will find "another legislative vehicle, in the second half of this Congress, to move the Matthew Shepard Act."
Tacking the Shepard Act on something less controversial that a bill relating to the Iraq war strikes me as more promising than Barney Frank's suggestion that the Senate pass the hate crime measure as a stand-alone bill, which exposes it to a threatened Bush veto.
The HRC statement also makes a point of detailing the organization's lobbying efforts to keep the Shepard Act intact as part of the DOD bill:
On November 14th, HRC sent an e-mail to all Capitol Hill offices urging the retention of hate crimes legislation in the Department of Defense Authorization conference report. Additionally, HRC organized and signed onto a coalition letter sent to the Chairman and Ranking Members of the Armed Services Committees urging them to retain the Hate Crimes amendment as part of the conference report. Timed to correspond with Members returning from the Thanksgiving recess, on November 28th, HRC launched a nationwide action alert to all of its members urging immediate grassroots action to Members of Congress.
An email and a letter? That's it?
That's nothing compared to the "10 in 10 days" campaign HRC launched that generated 80,000 calls and emails to keep the "gender identity" protection in ENDA. Or the 100 HRC board members and volunteers who stormed Capitol Hill to lobby members directly on trans rights. Or how HRC staffers "worked around the clock" when the transgender protections were at risk because of the House whip count.
Solmonese also thanked Democratic leaders in both houses for their "exhaustive efforts… to keep the Matthew Shepard Act as part of [the DOD] bill." At what point do we actually get to complain about the failure of congressional Democrats to pass hate crimes, despite a vote of 237-180 in the House and 60-39 in the Senate?
Still nothing from the Task Force on the hate crime bill. Apparently Matt Foreman and his United ENDA allies are still too exhausted from their divisive attempt to sink gay workplace protections to notice that Congress just tanked the first transgender rights measure ever to pass both houses.
Kudos to Judy and Dennis Shepard for speaking with a much more powerful voice about today's congressional shenanigans:
“We are truly dismayed to find that Congress now will put aside its leadership on passage of federal hate crimes legislation that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
“At this time of year that fills us all with hope for humankind, we are sad to find that a Congressional majority of each House who have already adopted the Matthew Shepard Act cannot yet come together.
“Make no mistake; this is a small triumph of process over principle. We are dedicated to redoubling our efforts next year to achieve our vision of a hate-free America that truly includes everyone. This has never simply been about Matthew Shepard and our family, this legislation is a gift delayed but never forgotten for all America’s families.”
The Task Force has weighed in for the first time publicly in weeks on the Shepard Act, also expressing "deep anger and disappointment" that it was jettisoned from the DOD bill. Despite its inexplicable inaction for weeks now, the Task Force claims in its statement to have been busy behind the scenes, "mobiliz[ing] its members through action alerts, lobb[ying] congressional offices and organiz[ing] other national partners to pressure Congress not to give in — again — to right-wing opposition to LGBT legislation."
Riiiight. Even taking that claim at face value -- which I don't -- the comparison to the Task Force's balls to the wall push on trans protections in ENDA -- and then to sink the compromise version -- couldn't be more striking. And Matt Foreman's strategic advice at this point?
"We call on the Senate to immediately advance a stand-alone version of hate crimes that matches the version passed by the House earlier this year and send it to the president’s desk. When the president vetoes the bill — as he has repeatedly promised to do — everyone will see just how subservient this administration is to America’s anti-gay industry. Force his hand, for goodness sake, rather than hiding us away."
Ahh yes, let's have a purely pyrrhic victory rather than, as at least Solmonese suggested, finding some other vehicle to push hate crimes through Congress and to an actual presidential signature.
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