If this is what you call turning up the heat in the presidential race - I'm still simmering.
Today's conference call held by the Obama Campaign on the need for federal hate crimes legislation turned up no new information and left some of us a bit befuddled if not frustrated after the key presenters commented then disappeared.
Matt Nosanchuk of the Obama for America National LGBT Steering and Policy Committee, convened the call.
Matt opened with:
The issue of hate crimes is an incredibly important one. Recent statistics that came out from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs shows that, with respect to hate crimes against LGBT Americans, there's been a 24% increase over 2006 and ironically, the biggest increase was in Michigan - a 207% increase. Michigan, of course, is where the Chairman [that's Congressmember John C. Conyers Jr. (D-MI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee] is from. So this is a very important issue to the LGBT community - to have sexual orientation and gender identity included in the federal hate crimes bill.
OK. But here's the thing: the media advisory from Obama Campaign advertising the conference call said:
Chicago, IL - Earlier this month, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released a report highlighting the rash of over a dozen brutal and violent hate crimes against people either identifying as or perceived to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender that occurred in June and July 2008.
The statistics Matt quoted were from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs report released May 20 showing "a 24% increase in total number of victims reporting incidents of antigay LGBT violence from 1,954 to 2,430."
This is August 18. Most of us reported on the NCAVP stats when they came out. So we tried for some other info.
Damien Skipper, whose 25 year gay old brother Ryan was brutally murdered in 2007, talked about how the local sheriff made homophobic comments and tried to blame Ryan for his own murder. So I tried to follow up on that since something similar is happening here Southern California in the case surrounding the murder of 15 year old Larry King.
I wanted to ask Conyers if he would hold new hearings on the federal hate crimes legislation in 2009 - considering the new context of sexual orientation as an officially protected suspect class - i.e., as a "real" minority - as recognized by the California Supreme Court - where the whole "blame the victim" mentality and ex-gay crap can be publicly flushed out. But Conyers had left the call and his deputy didn't understand the question.
The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld finally asked why they were holding the conference call now. Bottom line, Matt said, was to highlight the differences between Obama's record on hate crimes and that of his GOP opponent John McCain - just so we know McCain does NOT favor hate crimes legislation for LGBt folks, while a President Obama would sign such legislation into law.
OK. But I think we've reported that before, too.