Posts Tagged As: Federal Hate Crimes Law
January 24th, 2009
The Washington Blade has reported on a prognosis of Barack Obama’s LGBT Civil Rights Agenda. House and Senate figures believe that a Hate Crimes Bill could be on President Obama’s desk by this summer, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act could be ready for his signature by the fall.
The timetable for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is less certain. Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) intends to introduce legislation for its repeal in the next few weeks, with many expecting it to be repealed sometime this year. However, Barney Frank recently suggested that its repeal may have to wait until U.S. troops are out of Iraq.
As for the rest of the civil rights agenda, things are much murkier. Granting Civil Union-like federal rights probably won’t happen this year, and lawmakers agree that the votes to repeal DOMA aren’t there.
This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
January 22nd, 2009
We’ve had eight years of listening for dog whistles. We learned quickly that whenever President Bush or members of Congress spoke, we had to dissect every utterance, split every infinitive, and scoop every dangling participle to try to discern the secret message that was being sent to the base. For all of his assaults on English, President Bush was particularly adept at speaking that unique language which only his base could understand without raising the ire of moderates.
Along the way, we learned that the Dred Scott decision somehow related to abortion and that God prefers commas over periods. We analyzed every message, the way the CIA dissects audio tapes from Osama bin Ladin in case there might be a secret message for a far-flung branch of Al Qaida — which, coincidentally, just happens to be Arabic for “the base.”
And I think that affected to how we approached statements from erstwhile allies as well. Was that a flinch we saw when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” came up? Why won’t she come straight out against “DOMA”? Why can’t he come out more forcefully against Prop 8? Every statement became a possible clue, and every omission appeared to boom louder than words.
This continued after the election. I was certainly part of it. Why Rick Warren? Why not Gene Robinson? And why was Gene Robinson’s invocation omitted from the broadcast? Why didn’t Obama give us a shout-out in his Inaugural address?
Well, we can stop listening for dog whistles. We can stop jumping up and down in excitement whenever he mentions gays, and we can stop pouting when he doesn’t. Because when the WhiteHouse.gov web site switched hands at 12:01 Tuesday afternoon, a very important document appeared: an LGBT civil rights agenda.
I said then that it looks like a very good scorecard on which we can judge the Obama administration. In fact, the more I look at it, the more I’ve concluded that no gay rights organization could have created a better scorecard in their wildest dreams.
That’s why I decided to condense it into a simple checklist form. And here it is: Barack Obama’s LGBT Civil Rights Scorecard. It’s the one he himself signed up to. And it’s one that I intend to refer to often over the next four years.
I doubt there will be immediate action on any of these items. After all, I can see how a crashing economy and a war in Iraq might be something of a distraction, to say the least. With people losing their jobs, homes, and health care, there’s a lot that needs to be done.
But I have to admit that I labor under the possibly mistaken impression that our elected representatives can walk and chew gum. They should be able to squeeze in a few of these promises in due course amongst the other things that need to be done. But even I know that we can’t sit back and assume that all of those wonderful politicians who made so many swell promises will actually get right on all those promises they made. I mean, c’mon — they’re politicians.
Besides when we’re talking about civil rights, the door has never opened because someone pulled the door open from the inside. It’s always been opened by a strong push from that outside.
That’s where we come in. They signed up for an impressive checklist. But it’s up to us to hold them to it.
January 20th, 2009
At 12:01 p.m. EST, several things happened simultaneously. The Secret Service agent standing behind President Bush shifted places and took his place behind President Obama. And President Obama, even though he hadn’t yet taken the oath of office, became the official, constitutional President of the United States.
And something else happened. The Switch was flipped on the official White House website. And what a switch it is. There’s a lot there for LGBT Americans to look forward to under the heading of “Civil Rights.” Highlights include:
You might want to bookmark this post. This represents a good scorecard on which to grade the Obama administration in the months and years to come.
January 8th, 2009
Jeffrey Toobin has a great profile of Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) in the latest New Yorker. First thing that pops out is that Frank intends to be much more aggressive than Obama:
Frank’s mordant view of human nature presents a contrast to the sunnier approach of President-elect Obama, a difference reflected in their dispute over Obama’s choice to have Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor, give the invocation at the Inauguration. “Obama tends to overstate his ability to get people to change their opinions and underestimates the importance of confronting ideological differences,” Frank told me. “It’s one thing to talk to somebody. I talk to more conservatives than anyone, because I’m trying to get legislation passed. But it’s another to make Rick Warren the most honored clergyman in the world.” In California, Warren supported Proposition 8, the successful anti-gay-marriage referendum. “Now, when we fight Warren in California, we are going to hear, ‘Oh, yeah, but Obama picked him for the inaugural.’ He doesn’t deserve that honor. And I don’t want to hear that the other clergyman at the inaugural, Reverend [Joseph] Lowery, supports gay rights. I didn’t vote for a tie in the election.”
Frank worries that Obama’s evenhandedness may prove to be a political liability.
I think we all can relate to that worry. Frank, on the other hand, won’t let that get in the way of what he thinks needs to be done for the economy (he’s chairman of the powerful Committee on Financial Services) and for LGBT rights:
Frank is uncharacteristically hopeful about the future, including gay rights. “We’re going to do three things in Congress,” he told me. “First, a hate-crimes bill—that shouldn’t be too hard. Next, employment discrimination. We almost got that through before, but now we can win even if we add transgender protections, which we are going to do. And finally, after the troops get home from Iraq, gays in the military. The time has come.” [Emphasis mine]
That last point is key. If we’re going to wait until after the troops get home from Iraq, then repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” probably won’t happen for a very long time. But his response to those who claim that this represents some sort of radical agenda was pretty good:
“I do not think that any self-respecting radical in history would have considered advocating people’s rights to get married, join the Army, and earn a living as a terribly inspiring revolutionary platform.”
December 3rd, 2008
One thing that I found fascinating is that issues of homosexuality are sharply dividing Mainline Christians from Evangelical Christians. In all questions, Mainline Christians were gay-favorable and Evangelicals were among the least favorable.
This was particularly evident on issues that were in traditional areas of Christian activism (pre-Religious Right). For example, on the ENDA question, Mainline was the most supportive of all demographics while Evangelical was the least.
As the issues surrounding sexual orientation become more instilled in the war over religious dominance in the culture, a possible positive side effect could be that the non-religious come to see this as a sectarian battle and opt out of anti-gay efforts.
November 18th, 2008
The website for President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team has posted a fairly comprehensive list of policy objectives for the LGBT community, including fully inclusive employment non-discrimination protections, hate crime protections, repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” expanded adoption rights and “full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples.”
So while I’m happy to see the president-elect sign on to a very comprehensive LGBT civil rights agenda, I would be very surprised to see White House leadership on these issues. I expect that Obama will have his hands full with the economy and pressing issues in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo. Besides, the ball will always be Congress’s court anyway. After all, that’s where all legislation originates, and it will be up to congressional leaders to draft the legislation and place them on the calendar for a vote.
Nevertheless, it is a great thing to see. And who knew that a gay agenda would come from a straight man?
This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin
November 6th, 2008
So we have a new Congress and a new President, with both branches of government held by Democrats. For some of us, this is a dream come true. After eight years of a hostile administration and more than a decade of a hostile Congress, it would appear that this is our best chance to advance several issues which are important to the LGBT community.
Of course, this setup has disappointed us before. A similar arrangement in 1993 brought us Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
But things just might be different this time. During this presidential campaign, President-elect Barack Obama included four specific LGBT issues among his campaign promises:
So, what’s really on tap for 2009?
We’ve been focused so much on marriage amendments the past several months that the DOMA is probably topmost in our minds right now. Timothy offered some possibilities and alternatives for repealing all or parts of the DOMA. As he pointed out, all of those options are problematic.
I personally don’t see DOMA going away anytime soon. Just because it’s foremost in our thoughts right at the moment doesn’t mean it will necessarily be the top of the “agenda” in January.
But we have seen considerable momentum building on the other issues. In the past two years, we saw movement on the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act and the ENDA. Unfortunately, that ENDA was the non-inclusive variety, and the resulting dissention among LGBT advocates ultimately doomed ENDA’s passage.
We also saw Congressional hearings on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, although that hasn’t translated yet into legislative action. Nevertheless, the groundwork has been laid for DADT going the way of the dodo bird and polar icecaps.
The top LGBT priorities for 2009 will be driven by what is politically possible. In the current climate, I think Hate Crimes and repealing DADT are doable. ENDA is achievable as well, but only if we get our own act together and get behind a fully inclusive one. Otherwise, we’ll suffer the same division and acrimony as we did the last go-round, with the same result.
Besides those three items, there are some other opportunities as well. The new administration will almost certainly lift the HIV traveler’s ban after Congress repealed the 1993 law which mandated it. That law was one of Sen. Jesse Helms’s great legacies. The Bush administration signed the repeal, but it has so far failed to follow up by actually rescinding the ban. That unfinished business will be left for the next administration
We might also realize other important gains as well, like support for honest reality-based HIV prevention programs that rely on something more realistic than abstinence until marriage — especially when marriage continues to be pushed out of reach for so many gays and lesbians.
And that brings us back to DOMA. And unfortunately, DOMA is probably off the table. With the passage of three new marriage amendments in Florida, Arizona and California, there will be few legislators on Capital Hill willing to put much effort into something their own constituents voted against back home. In a stretch, we might be able to add some domestic partnership benefits for federal employees, but I’m afraid DOMA itself will probably be around for quite some time to come.
April 23rd, 2008
Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin has indicated that he hopes to attach hate crimes language to the defense bill either during his committee’s closed-door markup or as an amendment offered during floor debate on the bill.
Last year, Senate Democrats narrowly passed an amendment to the Senate’s FY08 authorization bill to extend the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation. That amendment also would have provided federal assistance to state and local authorities investigating and prosecuting hate crimes. It died during the reconciliation process in the House, where members feared a presidential veto.
December 6th, 2007
Anti-gay Activists can now rejoice that violent hate crimes against gay persons will continue to be ignored by the federal government.
Bashers, haters, and anti-gay activists can now celebrate together.
November 17th, 2007
Well, not really, but what an ironic world we live in.
When the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Act was being debated in the House, President Bush promised to veto the legislation. So when the Senate took up the measure, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) attached it to the Defense Authorization Bill in order to try to make it veto-proof. Now that the Defense Authorization Bill has passed both the House and Senate in two different forms, it now goes to a joint Congressional conference committee.
And that is where the trouble started. As many as 180 house conservatives (mostly Republican) who voted against the hate crimes bill threaten to vote against any defense authorization bill that would include the hate crimes provisions. And they will be joined by as many as 20 anti-war Democrats who vow to vote against the defense authorization because it will provide for the continuation of the Iraq war.
Now it looks like further action on the defense authorization bill will be delayed until early December. It’s unclear right now whether the hate crimes provisions will survive.
September 27th, 2007
39 Republicans voted against the measure. Technically the vote was for cloture – to end debate. The vote to add hate crimes to the defense bill was passed by voice vote unopposed. This allows Senators to have voted both for and against the bill.
A similar situation happened in 2004 but Republican leadership removed hate crimes in negotiations between the Senate and the House. That is unlikely to happen this time around.
President Bush will be in the uneviable position of either signing the bill and infuriating his social conservative supporters (about the only supporters he has left) or vetoing the bill and trying to explain to America that preventing hate crimes legislation is more important than paying our soldiers overseas.
September 26th, 2007
Word has it that the Senate is expected to vote on the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. The anti-gay lobby knew this was coming, with it receiving nearly constant mention at the Family Impact Summit. At one point, the Family Research Council stopped selling their $20 DVD devoted to the subject and started handing it out to anyone who would take one. They’ve been pumping out tons of lies about what this legislation would supposedly do.
I encourage you to inform yourself, read the text of the bill (which I’ve posted three times, something hate crime opponents refuse to do), and call your Senator.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.