Lane Hudson

House Dems selling out gays? Again.

Filed By Lane Hudson | December 06, 2007 12:09 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Congress, Democrats, gender identity, hate crimes against LGBT people, homophobic behavior, lesbian, Matthew Shepard Act, sexual orientation, violence

There is a report that House Conferees on the Defense Authorization Act will scrap the Matthew Sheppard Act that was attached to the bill in the Senate.

House Democrats are reportedly resigned to removing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crime bill from defense authorization legislation.

Congressional Quarterly reports that House Democratic leaders believe they lack the votes to pass the measure.

The Shepard Act would add sexuality to the list of categories covered under federal hate crime law.

CQ which covers Capitol Hill extensively quoted unnamed House aides as saying House members on the conference committee are rewriting the defense bill and will likely recommend leaving out the hate crime provision.

That has apparently sparked differences with Senate conferees who want the Shepard Act to remain. Nevertheless it is expected that a compromise will be reached where the act will not be part of the spending bill.

"It looks like it’s got a lot of trouble,” George Miller (D-Calif.) told CQ. "so far, nobody’s come up with a whip count that says it could pass."

There are a couple problems with this situation. First, it doesn't even make sense. The House of Representatives was able to pass a fully-inclusive stand alone hate crimes bill this year. It defies logic to tell us now that they don't have the votes now that it is attached to the Defense Authorization bill. If anything, it should make it significantly easier to pass.

After all, this is legislation that I'm told is supported by about 80% of the public in opinion polls. It's also named after a kid who was beaten to death and has become an icon in American history. But, the Democrats are scared that Bush may veto the bill and they'll get blamed for trying to starve soldiers. There go the Democrats again. Scared of our own shadow.

This is shaping up to be a complete sell out of any campaign promises that Democrats made to the gay community. Repeatedly, officials within the Democratic Party promised hate crimes legislation and an Employment Non-Discrimination Act. If this report is true, then they are batting zero.

Honestly, the Democratic Majority has been a string of disappointments for those who were hungry for change following twelve years of almost exclusive Republican rule on Capitol Hill.

In addition to the disappointing (at best) handling of these issues, it doesn't stop there. In a New York Times editorial on December 2, it became clearer that House Democrats were ready to fund $28 million in abstinence-only programs. That amounts to nothing more than a handout to right wing groups that are blind to the fact that these programs do not work. Further, they completely ignore LGBT youth and specific issues that they need to be aware of.

Not only do Democratic leaders in Congress need to cease their fear of The Right, they need to start doing the right things. Thus far, I've been willing to give them time to find their footing and grow into their newly won majority. My patience is wearing thin and so is America's.

The final piece in this puzzle is the effectiveness of gay rights organizations. They raise tens of millions of dollars a year from dedicated activists. Thus far, there is very little to show in Congress that their approach is effective. LGBT leaders need to decide if they are going to be inside the beltway political lobbyists who care more about cocktail parties or whether they are indeed civil rights organizations dedicated to principle. Will they use this as another opportunity to raise money or will they go to Capitol Hill and raise hell for being lied to?

We will soon see.

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Important clarification: According to this speech posted previously by Michael Crawford, it is an additional $28 million being added to an existing $176 million, making the total for abstinence-only over $200 million.

And, as Charles King points out, a (probably large) portion of this money is potentially government-funding for propaganda against the rights of GLBT Americans.

The precedent for fucking us over was set by the ENDA debacle. Now the Democrats can go into the presidential elections without having any taint of passing gay rights legislation.

Did they vote in favor of it? Sure! Any good Dem would! But did they get it turned into law? Hell no. What would they dangle in front of our noses?

Don't forget - a lot of the Democrats make a lot of money by being "pro-gay." If we got everything we wanted this year - ENDA and hate crimes - what would we ask for next? *gulp* Could it be marriage or more HIV/AIDS funding research?

And how could that (especially marriage) affect the election? Bah.

Well, the Democrats learned the value of incrementalism from the ENDA debate and applied it to legislative power, this time to the Military Appropriations Bill. It could get through with less difficulty if the gays were stripped out of it. They have, of course promised to come back for it later.

When it happend during ENDA we called it good political tactics. Now, we finally realize it is poor public morality.

We have taken crumbs from the table of the citizenship rights enjoyed from straights and gotten them by begging and being well behaved gays and Lesbians. We were expected to follow the wisdom of our congressionally appointed leader and his "chosen people, " the HRC. This all needs to end.

We want the rights, we demand the rights of any other American Citizen, we demand equality and we demand it all now. No more incrementalism. No more baby steps. We are Americans and we insist upon being treated as such. Gay rights began with an uprising and a sense of revolution, it is time to return to that spirit. No more supporting of candidates who do not support our agenda or fob us off with promises of support for second class status. If it takes protests, disruption, parades that are not simply a celebration of fetishes but real political protests, so be it. WE represent ourselves. We will support those who recognize our right to complete equality. If we deny support to all but those who do we cahnge the nature of democratic politics forever, even if our candidates do not win, because we are perhaps 20% of the base and our support of a single candidate drastically alters everything. Finally, people will realize if they want to win, they have to offer us equality and true citizenship--now!

It's the black preachers. Churchgoing blacks make up a key part of the Democratic voting bloc, especially in the North, and the Republicans have made a point of buying off a certain number of black ministers to preach hate against gays.

Shoe's on the other foot, eh? Now you know how the transpeople felt - and still feel - after the Democrats and HRC sold us out on ENDA.