Terrance Heath

Hate Crimes Bill Hung Up?

Filed By Terrance Heath | November 17, 2007 4:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: ENDA, hate crimes against LGBT people, transgender

It looks that way. In a more-than-a-little-ironic twist so soon after the ENDA debate, it looks like the hate crimes bill may get hung-up in Congress, because it would include anti-gay hate crimes.

The fate of a gay- and transgender-inclusive hate crimes bill was called into question this week when gay-supportive members of the House of Representatives threatened to vote against a defense authorization bill to which the measure is attached.

As many as 20 House Democrats who are strong gay rights supporters indicated they might vote against the National Defense Authorization Act because it includes provisions that support President Bush’s efforts to continue the Iraq war, Capitol Hill sources said.

At the same time, as many as 180 House Republicans and conservative Democrats who voted against a freestanding version of the hate crimes bill in May threatened to vote against the Department of Defense authorization measure this week unless the hate crimes provision were taken out, congressional insiders said.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was expected to join Senate Democratic leaders Thursday morning in announcing a postponement of a vote on the entire bill until at least Dec. 1, when Congress returns from its Thanksgiving holiday recess, according to a knowledgeable congressional source.

The House and Senate were scheduled to vote on a final version of the combined hate crimes-DOD authorization bill by Friday after a House-Senate conference committee made last-minute changes.

In my mind, this calls a few things into question.

First, if the Democrats in Congress can't come through on hate crimes, what makes us think they can come through on ENDA this year or next? If we can't get even enough Democrats in Congress to agree that beating up a queer because he or she is a queer is a hate crime, then I think w need to seriously ask ourselves whether it makes any sense to pin our hopes to the Democrats any more than the Republicans. I've said it before and I'll say it again. The Democratic party is changing in a way that runs counter to alleged progressive values, like equality and fairness.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The ultimate victory of the “Republican Revolution” may very well end up being a more conservative Democratic party.

And what of those progressive who care about and are working on issues like war and economic justice, but who are also passionate about social issues? What do we do with a party that seems to want less to do with those issues?

The problem is that we’re stuck in a party that’s not so much progressive as it is “progressive-to-a-point,” stopping short of some progressive values in pursuit of voters who do the same. I can think of three off the top of my head. To my mind, in addition to other issues, a progressive party would also stand up for:

* reproductive choice
* equality
* separation of church and state

Right now, it looks like Democrats don’t have the stomach to stand up for any of the above.

And then there's the question of strategy. What do we say about a gay leadership that (a) opts for and ENDA strategy that inevitably divides the community and causes damage that will take years to repair, and (b) opts for a hate crimes strategy that pits gay rights against the war in Iraq, and (c) with a president in the White House who's unlikely to put his John Hancock on either measure?

Between a Democratic party that's veering more conservative and a gay organizational leadership that seems to be challenged in the strategy department, where exactly are we now? Triangulated right into oblivion?

Crossposted from The Republic of T.


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Yeah, to be honest, progress on LGBT issues in the Democratic party has been abysmal. LGBT-pertinent legislation has yet to be enacted on a federal level by Democrats. All they have demonstrated thus far is that they know how to talk the talk but avoid walking the walk. Every day I'm growing more certain that our only efficient path to equality is through hard dedication to educating people. Get involved in school curricula through the school boards, have these cowardly queers in the entertainment industry go on strike unless some solid LGBT representation in the media is achieved, etc.

I'll keep saying it because it's still true: When the House leadership sells out part of the LGBT community for their own benefit and HRC helps them do it, it simply gives the community stamp of approval on this kind of politics.

Just as no one said "Boo" when John Kerry came out in opposition to a trans-inclusive ENDA in '04, and then he followed that up with a call for a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, it should not surprise anyone that hate crimes will now probably get the axe for the convenience of the Democrats.

After all, our largest and richest civil rights organization has helped to provide the cover they need in order to make it happen. HRC has so completely prostituted itself to the Democratic leadership now that anything they say, for or against, won't be taken seriously by anyone on either side of the debate.

The Democratic Party cares about the Democratic Party, nothing and no one else, and certainly not any of us. They will use anything and everything they can in order to maintain their own power and privilege, just like the GOP. One day, HRC and the rest of these people buying into Barney's bullshit will finally get that.

Once again, welcome gay folks, to the edge of the plank right along with us trannys. Get ready, here comes that big boot...

Sucks, doesn't it?

Every day I'm growing more certain that our only efficient path to equality is through hard dedication to educating people. Get involved in school curricula through the school boards, have these cowardly queers in the entertainment industry go on strike unless some solid LGBT representation in the media is achieved, etc.

I'm wondering how true that is now. everything here - employment protections on gender ID and sexual orientation, hate crimes leg on the two, DADT - are all popular. The education's done. Now it's time for some leadership up top, and we're just not seeing it.

"I'm wondering how true that is now. everything here - employment protections on gender ID and sexual orientation, hate crimes leg on the two, DADT - are all popular. The education's done. Now it's time for some leadership up top, and we're just not seeing it."

And who puts those leaders there, Alex? What do these leaders fear when they consider supporting LGBT legislation? Obviously, the education is not done as well as you would think. I think the education will be done when professors and teachers don't dance around the personal life of Walt Whitman in classes, trying to obscure the details. Education will be done when you see a healthy amount of LGBT representation in Language Arts and Literature classes, not a uniform, mindless list of books based solely on racial prejudice, which here in Miami are pretty much repudiated, anyways. It is just easier for educators to beat the dead horse, though; nothing beats the facade of challenging convention by teaching material that by itself has pretty much become convention itself.

I will agree with you that we need leaders, no doubt. However, I think you're giving too much credit to our heterosexual brethren in terms of social progression.