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    December 05, 2007

    'United' for the Matthew Shepard Act?

    Posted by: Chris

    Lccr_letter The Human Rights Campaign has issued another action alert warning supporters that the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, passed by the House as a stand-alone bill and by the Senate as part of the Defense Department reauthorization, remains in jeopardy. According to the HRC alert, House Democratic leaders may decide as early as Wednesday whether to keep the hate crime amendment.

    As I posted several weeks ago, the hate crime add-on is caught in a political wedge between conservative House Republicans who oppose its inclusion in the defense bill and liberal House Democrats who oppose the defense bill because of unrelated provisions on the Iraq war. Moderate Democrats, on the other hand, are doing what moderate Democrats all too often do, declaring a "moral victory" in passing the hate crime bill while suggesting it be jettisoned to save the bigger legislation.

    It took two weeks, but HRC finally alerted its members late last week that the bill was in jeopardy. Now Congressional Quarterly is reporting that informal House-Senate conferees have resolved all outstanding issues relating to the huge defense bill except the hate crimes amendment. CQ reports:

    House Democratic leaders plan to decide in the next day or two whether to include the provision, aides said. It is considered vital by many in the Democratic constituency who have been lobbying House leaders to include it in the final defense bill.

    But the provision could jeopardize the whole bill. In the House, liberals upset over war spending could join forces against the bill with conservatives concerned about the hate crimes language.

    This is the time when the rubber meets the road, and all that pro-gay rhetoric from Democratic Party leaders needs to be backed by action. It was Democrats -- Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts among others -- who decided to peg the Shepard Act to the DOD bill, primarily to discourage a threatened veto by President Bush. But having committed to that strategy, now is not the time to abandon it.

    Curiously silent in the weeks leading up to this moment are Matt Foreman, the Task Force and their "United ENDA" crowd who launched a website, lobbying effort to encourage Democrats to bail on ENDA if transgender protections were removed. It is beyond curious that they have been so silent when a bill that has already passed both houses and does include transgender protections hangs in the balance.

    HRC did release a missive on the letterhead of the Leaderschip Conference on Civil Rights -- the same group that along with HRC came out in favor of Barney Frank's compromise ENDA -- that calls on ranking Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services Committtees not to bail on the Shepard Act. And the Task Force and a number of other "United ENDA" groups are listed as signatories.

    But signing a letter is not real lobbying and is nothing compared to the full blitz they put into effect on ENDA.  The Task Force website, remarkably, still devotes one of its top three "alert" positions to the ENDA battle -- one of the other two is on the pressing needs of LGBT Asian-Pacific Islanders -- and there's nothing on the entire site I could find about the hate crime bill.

    Funny how the Task Force could devote so much energy to an ENDA battle that coincidentally cemented its relationships with the grassroots at the expense of rival HRC and now cannot muster only the energy to sign on to a letter for the Shepard Act.



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    1. Andoni on Dec 5, 2007 8:58:06 AM:

      Well, this sucks. In order to pass a DOD bill, the Dems would rather dump the gays to get the Republican votes, than side with the gays and their own Left by cutting back a bit on the funding. So they sell out both gay constituents and members of their own party in favor of Republican demands.

      When we call Members to lobby, we should make it perfectly clear that we are angry and they are NOT performing as they promised they would.

    1. aladdin bail bonds on Aug 5, 2008 12:15:16 AM:

      Given the urgency and importance of these issues please help the House and Senate negotiators by calling members and urging them to remove this provision. Tell them it should be removed because the provision is not germane to the national defense of this country. Most importantly, tell them that the provision should be removed because it runs counter to our country's bedrock principles of free speech and thought. "

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 26, 2011 2:12:02 AM:

      our country's bedrock principles of free speech and thought

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