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Today’s email from the Human Rights Campaign:
As I write this, I am filled with both deep disappointment and gratitude. I am disappointed because our fight for a hate crimes bill has been derailed, but grateful for the historic advances that we were able to achieve this year.
As you all know, we have made momentous advancements this year by moving the federal hate crimes legislation the closest it has ever been to becoming law. For the first time ever, in one year we were able to pass the fully-inclusive legislation through both chambers of Congress – a truly historic feat.
If you recall, the Matthew Shepard Act first passed the House of Representatives back in May as a stand-alone piece of legislation. It then moved to the Senate, where it passed 60 to 39 in September as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) attached the Matthew Shepard Act to the Department of Defense Authorization bill because President Bush had announced that he would veto a free-standing hate crimes bill. By amending hate crimes to this larger bill, Senators Kennedy and Smith thought that we had a better chance of getting the president’s signature. After all, Bush would have to veto the entire piece of legislation – hate crimes AND programs for his war in Iraq – to reject hate crimes protections.
But in a frustrating move yesterday, during the very last legislative step – a conference committee working out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill – we received word that the Matthew Shepard Act would be dropped from the final version of the bill. The hate crimes veto threat issued by the White House and organized opposition by House Republican Leadership cost significant numbers of votes on the right. Iraq-related provisions, which many progressive Democrats opposed, cost votes on the left. Moderate Democrats, many of whom voted for the hate crimes bill in May, did not want to test the President’s veto threat and risk a delay in increased pay for military personnel. All of these factors resulted in insufficient votes to secure passage of the bill with the hate crimes provision.
HRC coordinated a major final push to protect this bill. 40,000 HRC activists responded to our call and wrote to Congress. We helped organize a coalition effort with 120 national and local organizations. We held 11th-hour meetings with lawmakers.
Despite the anger we all feel that we fell short so close to the finish line, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we did succeed in moving hate crimes legislation the closest it has ever been to hitting the President’s desk for signature. And rest assured, the Human Rights Campaign is not done fighting. We are not giving up on efforts to find another legislative vehicle, in the second half of this Congress, to move the Matthew Shepard Act. Yes, we made historic advancements, but we will not be satisfied until we get a President who will use his or her pen to enshrine into our federal law books that violence against the GLBT community will not be tolerated in this country.
We have been a leader in the fight for hate crimes legislation for over a decade, and we’re not about to let this setback deter us. We will not rest until these protections are law.
We also can’t lose track of the bigger picture for 2008. On top of working to advance this bill and the rest of our equality agenda, we are already mobilizing around the 2008 elections. We are investing major resources to:
These are the moments when your support counts most. Together, we’ll find the right path to victory. We know it is there.
I received this email to day and urge everyone to follow the links and take action. Thanks!
The Matthew Shepard Act is at risk!
Tell your lawmakers to protect the hate crimes legislation we’ve worked so hard for.
The Matthew Shepard Act could be abandoned by Congressional leaders unless we act immediately.
Email Congress today and stand up against hate crimes.
I have alarming news. The Matthew Shepard Act – whose passage in the Senate and House required months of effort – is now in serious jeopardy of not making it to the President’s desk.
The hate crimes legislation we’ve fought for has reached its final step before being sent to President Bush, but some lawmakers are working to derail it. Right now there is a very real danger that the Matthew Shepard Act won’t even make it to the President for his signature or veto. If that happens, we could lose months or years of progress.
We likely have less than a week to act. Tell your lawmakers the Matthew Shepard Act must not be abandoned by the Conference Committee next week.
How can a hate crimes victory be so close and yet still so much in jeopardy?
Here’s what’s happening: Senate leadership employed a commonplace strategy with this bill. They calculated that the only chance of the Matthew Shepard Act surviving Bush’s veto pen was if it were attached to a “must-pass” Department of Defense bill. But now that House and Senate are reconciling their versions of the DoD bill, it is under attack from anti-GLBT conservatives against hate crimes legislation, as well as progressive, pro-equality lawmakers who oppose some of the bill’s provisions for the war in Iraq.
We cannot let the Matthew Shepard Act be abandoned when we have come so close to getting it to the White House! We only have a matter of days before Congress is back in session and the final decision is made. This issue is especially timely right now. Last week, the FBI reported that hate crimes rose nearly 8% last year.
You know how hard we’ve worked to pass the Matthew Shepard Act. Since April, hundreds of thousands of HRC supporters like you have bombarded Congress with letters and phone calls. You’ve enlisted friends in the fight, written to local papers, passed out postcards at events. You’ve given time and you’ve given financial support.
Don’t back down now – not if you care about the safety of GLBT Americans.
Thank you, again, for your ongoing commitment to equality and justice.
Having trouble clicking on the links above? Simply copy and paste this URL into your browser’s address bar to take action today: http://www.hrcactioncenter.org/campaign/DoD_HateCrimes/
(***UPDATE 9/27/07: GREAT NEWS: Amendment added!!!***)
It is expected that the U.S. Senate will finally be voting on The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act/Matthew Shepard Act (H.R. 1592 / S. 1105) TOMORROW! It is vital that you contact your Senators TODAY to remind them that you are one of their constituents, that you strongly support this very important hate crimes bill legislation to protect ALL people, and that you fully expect them to do the same despite the fact that George W. Bush has vowed to veto the bill. Please DO YOUR PART to make sure prejudice and bigotry is not allowed to flourish in our country by contacting your Senators and spreading the word to others.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the Matthew Shepard Act as an amendment to the Department of Defense bill to ensure that all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability deserve to be free from violent crimes committed because of hatred and bias.
Please call your Senators NOW and ask for him/her to the vote for the passage of the Matthew Shepard Act.
URGENT: CONTACT YOUR SENATORS NOW!
CALL (202) 224-3121 & ask for your Senators office
Ask for their support of the Matthew Shepard Act and let them know that all Americans regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability deserve to be free from violent crimes committed because of hatred and bias.
From HRC Backstory:
September 25, 2007 4:36PM
This afternoon, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), one of the lead sponsors of the Senate hate crimes bill, took to the Senate floor to urge the Senate to pass the hate crimes bill (S. 1105) and for President Bush to sign the legislation into law. Earlier today, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) filed a cloture motion on the hate crimes bill, a procedural move to overcome Senator McCain’s objection to bringing the amendment to the floor. Our side must achieve 60 votes on the cloture motion to win; that vote is scheduled for Thursday. The Senate should then move towards passages of the hate crimes bill as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill.
Senator Kennedy’s prepared statement on the Senate floor can be read here.
From the Human Rights Campaign web site:
Hate Crimes Affect More than Just the Individual Attacked
All violent crimes are reprehensible. But the damage done by hate crimes cannot be measured solely in terms of physical injury or dollars and cents. Hate crimes rend the fabric of our society and fragment communities because they target a whole group and not just the individual victim. Hate crimes are committed to cause fear to a whole community. A violent hate crime is intended to “send a message” that an individual and “their kind” will not be tolerated, many times leaving the victim and others in their group feeling isolated, vulnerable and unprotected.
- Complete text of Senator Kennedy’s statement on the floor of the US Senate regarding The Matthew Shepard Act
- Hate crimes are a form of domestic terrorism. They send the poisonous message that some Americans deserve to be victimized solely because of who they are. Like other acts of terrorism, hate crimes have an impact far greater than the impact on the individual victims. They are crimes against entire communities, against the whole nation, and against the fundamental ideals on which America was founded. They are a violation of all our country stands for.
- Fabricated fears about hate crime legislation (Cornel West and Sylvia Rhue Op-Ed piece from The Boston Globe)
- The truth is that the Matthew Shepard Act protects all First Amendment rights. And, although that is a given, this bill goes out of its way to protect the free speech of ministers. Those pastors who wish to continue condemning and dehumanizing the gay community will be free to do so.
- Hate Crimes and Justice in the Black Community (Melissa Harris-Lacewell on the Huffington Post)
- The proposed federal statute does not punish nor prohibit free expression of one’s religious beliefs. The hate crimes bill includes language protecting individuals from race-based and religion-based crimes as well. The Act protects first Amendment rights for everyone while ensuring that the authorities fully investigate all violent crimes intended to degrade and oppress their victims. The bill protects our children, because black youth are disproportionately targeted and victimized in anti-gay hate crimes.
- Transcript: Judy Shepard Urges Passage of Hate Crimes Law (NOW on pbs.org)
- HINOJOSA: So right now the House has already passed the bill. And the Senate is—is set to vote on it shortly. But President Bush is expected to veto the bill. The White House has said that state and local criminal laws already cover the new crimes that are defined under the bill. So—the—basically—the President is saying this kind of legislation just isn’t necessary. So what do you say to that?
- SHEPARD: It’s very disheartening when the leader of our nation goes on national T.V. and says that gay people aren’t—aren’t deserving of every—every equality that everyone else is. I’m very disappointed that they don’t see the difference, if nothing else than the message that it sends, that we need to protect—all of our citizens. Everyone is a race. Everyone is a sexual orientation. It just gives permission for people to continue to harass sexual orientation until we mark them as protected.
- Senator Kennedy press release on the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007
- Crimes motivated by hate because of the victim’s race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, disability, or gender are not confined to the geographical boundaries of our great nation. The current conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Ireland, the ethnic cleansing campaigns in Bosnia and Rwanda, or the Holocaust itself demonstrate that violence motivated by hate is a world-wide danger, and we have a special responsibility to combat it here at home.
- Support for the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007
I am so shocked, disappointed, and disgusted by what went down yesterday with OUR Senate, OUR government, OUR system of free speech, and the blinders that Americans seem to be wearing in regard to what exactly it is that Bush and his cronies are doing to OUR country, that I don’t even know how to put it into words. Are Americans so clueless that they don’t see that the minute the anti-war movement gains any sort of substantial ground, Bush & Crew pull some ridiculous BS, and typical sleight-of-hand out of the closet to take the focus off of all they are doing wrong. And for Bush to say in his press conference that HE was disgusted by the MoveOn.org ad, well Georgie Boy I’m beyond totally disgusted by what YOU and your regime are doing to MY country, and MY freedoms. The nerve of you to say that YOU are disgusted, considering everything you have done. Disgusted. I’M just totally disgusted.
I’ll allow Keith Olbermann to try and sort this latest disaster out for me in his usual intelligent and eloquent manner:
Here is a link to how the vote went down on the resolution. Shame on you to my senator, Dianne Feinstein, for voting in favor of it. Shame on you.
Here are some items from MoveOn.org, a group I hope those of you who are not currently involved with WILL join. We need SOME sort of group that helps us get our voices, our concerns, and our thoughts out there. Goodness knows our elected officials aren’t doing it.
- About MoveOn.org
- General Petraeus or General Betray Us? (info and ad)
- Senator McConnell: Betrayal of Trust (info and video)
- The VideoVets Project-Bring Our Troops Home (info and videos)
Here is an email MoveOn.org sent out to its members after yesterday’s asinine resolution:
The U.S. Senate just told you to sit down and be quiet when they passed a Republican amendment condemning MoveOn.1
Every day, our brave men and women are dying in a bloody civil war this Senate has done nothing to stop. Yesterday, they couldn’t even pass a bill to give soldiers adequate leave with their families before redeploying.2 But they’re spending time cracking down on a newspaper ad?
So, we’re making clear where America stands. We’re releasing a statement from MoveOn members—and anyone else who feels the same way—saying, “We will not be quiet, we will fight back. We will keep speaking out until Congress forces an exit plan for this awful war.”
Clicking here will add your name:
Maybe you liked our General Petraeus ad.3 Maybe you thought the language went too far. But make no mistake: this is much bigger than one ad.
It’s part of a larger campaign by Fox, the right-wing echo chamber, and Republicans like John McCain (who said we should be “thrown out of the country”).4
They’re doing it because they’re hurting: Polls show last week’s Bush Administration PR blitz increased the number of Americans favoring withdrawal5 and vulnerable Republicans are sinking lower and lower in the polls (or announcing their retirement).
And it has one purpose: to intimidate all of us. To send a message that anyone who speaks unpleasant truths about this war will pay. To make everyone—especially politicians—think twice before they accuse the administration of lying.
If it looks like we’re on the run, people will think twice before they speak out. Will you send a message today to Dick Cheney, Fox, Bill O’Reilly, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Karl Rove—and the Democrats without the guts to vote against this—that it’s not working?
We’ve changed our home page to just run the names of people who sign on. We’ll report the totals to the media all day. And if we can find an electronic billboard in Washington, D.C., we’ll run the names there, too.
And after you add your name, you can go one step further. We’ve put together a fair but hard-hitting ad that highlights how, yesterday, Republicans blocked a bill to give our troops adequate family leave before going back to Iraq. If we can raise enough money, we’ll air this ad across the country and take the fight back to the real issues—this terrible war and its impact on our troops and the Iraqi people.
Clicking here will add your name to our statement:
This morning, the Senate didn’t pass an exit strategy for Iraq. They didn’t pass a bill to cover millions of uninsured Americans or combat the climate crisis. Nope—they condemned 3.4 million Americans for speaking out against the war.
Let them know them it’s not going to work.
Thank you for all you do, every day, to get the truth out.
–Eli, Aaron, Adam G., Adam R., Anna, Carrie, Daniel, Erik, Ilyse, Jennifer, Joan, Justin, Karin, Laura, Marika, Matt, Natalie, Nita, Noah, Tanya, Tom & Wes
MoveOn.org Political Action
Thursday, September 20th, 2007
PS. I will join MoveOn members tonight for a live webcast at 8:30 EST/ 5:30 PST. We’ll update this situation, talk about next steps, and answer your questions. To join in, click here:
1. You can see the resolution text here and the roll call of who voted for it here. Absurdly, it claims that MoveOn “impugns the honor and integrity of … all the members of the United States Armed Force”—despite the fact that MoveOn includes hundreds of thousands of veterans and military family members, who’ve led our campaign to bring our troops home.
2. “Effort to Shift Course in Iraq Fails in Senate,” New York Times , September 19, 2007.
3. You can read the ad text and why we ran it here:
4. “McCain To MoveOn: Get Out,” CBS News, September 14, 2007.
5. “Poll: Most Say Bush Iraq Plan Falls Short,” CBS News, September 17, 2007.
PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, http://pol.moveon.org/
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.