April 18, 2008
Shepard Act sandbagged by Reid?
Posted by: Chris
I missed this tidbit from a couple of weeks ago on Blog Cabin, the gay GOP group's blog, about whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has sandbagged the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. It's actually taken from a Washington Blade story:
One congressional source familiar with the hate crimes bill said a number of GOP lawmakers believe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did not want to bring the hate crimes bill to a vote because doing so would help the re-election chances of moderate Republican senators who support the bill. Among them are Sens. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who face strong election challenges by Democrats in November.
That's pretty damning, given that Democratic Party leaders promised activists they would do anything possible to push the hate crimes bill and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act through in the current session, and perhaps even the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Of course the Blog Cabin post leaves off the paragraphs that follow in Lou Chibarro's Blade story:
Jim Manley, a spokesperson for Reid, disputed that assertion, saying Reid’s deliberations over the bill had “nothing at all” to do with the election.
Manley also disputed a claim by another congressional source that Reid and other Senate Democrats were reluctant to bring up gay rights bills at a time when Democrats are focusing most of their attention on the economy and a mortgage crisis that is causing Americans to lose their homes through foreclosure.
Senate Democrats can deny all the rumored explanations they want, but they can't escape the fact that both bills have been passed by the House and are awaiting action in the Senate.
ENDA is no doubt hobbled by the fact that dozens of LGBT groups actually hope for its failure since it lacks transgender rights protections in its current form. In reality, Democrats would be better off passing a gay-only ENDA now and blaming Republicans for leaving out "gender identity." Otherwise the pressure will be overwhelming for a trans-inclusive ENDA to pass early next term, after being deferred yet again one more time.
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