Senate to vote on Matthew Shepard Act THIS WEEK. right-wing groups trying to stop it!

I got this email from HRC. Just passing it on.

The Senate is poised to vote on the Matthew Shepard Act THIS WEEK. But our allies are reporting an avalanche of 300,000 letters and calls from right-wing groups trying to stop it.

Anti-LGBT leaders like Focus on the Family's James Dobson are now calling the bill "utter evil." They're even referring to it as the "Pedophile Protection Act."

With a vote on hate crimes coming any day, we desperately need senators to hear from fair-minded people like you.

It takes about 45 seconds to call each one of your senators – and each one of them needs to hear from you today. It's just as important for supportive senators to hear from us – they've promised to pass this bill, and they need to know we're counting on them to keep fighting.

So set yourself a reminder on your computer. Make the call on your way to lunch. Or stop reading this and do it right now. Whatever you do, make sure to CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY.

If you've never called Congress, let me assure you, it's incredibly easy.

Most likely, one of your senator's interns will answer and ask where you're calling from and why. You're calling to urge the Senator to vote for the Matthew Shepard Act (S. 909). Most calls end right there. But if you like, you can add:
* Hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are on the rise.
* One out of every six hate crimes is because of the victim's sexual orientation.
* Hate crimes have more than one victim. They are intended to create an atmosphere of fear and terrorize entire communities.

We have the truth on our side – and we need you to speak the truth today to counter our opponents' outrageous lies. Please make your phone calls right now.

Then, please pass this email on to your friends and family.

Thank you for taking action.


Joe Solmonese

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damn it damn it damn it

I'm torn between my being a strict-Constitutionalist and my not wanting the fundamentalists to win this fight.

Being a Constitutionalist I'm quite certain that regulation of hate is not a state power on any level. Hating the person one is victimizing isn't criminal, the crime committed against the victim is criminal, and I think that's where law enforcement's jurisdiction stops. Anything beyond that is regulating thoughts.

If their goal was to strike fear into a specific demographic, there are domestic terrorism laws that already exist for that.

However, this particular fight is not one that I want to surrender to the religious. They already have the mindset that because they have a right to discriminate(, and I agree that they do,) that they can then use that right as a means to remove the rights of others (which, if one cannot tell already, I find atrocious). The primary argument for stripping homosexuals in California of their rights was to protect their ownright to freedom of religion and expression. As though the two were at all mutually exclusive (which they are not, and never have been, and never would have been; ever).

So I'm stuck.

I don't like hate crime laws because I don't believe they are necessary, or constitutional, or even subject to reasonable regulation; but at the same time if this fails it just adds to the dangerously flawed impression that religious and speech rights supersede minority rights and reasonable protections.

In any case, I'm in CA 8th; I know exactly which way both my Senators and Congresswoman are going to vote on this.

Either way, thanks for the heads up.
I understand your hesitation and respect it. :) Consider that hate crimes against gay people are not only on the rise but have become more severe, more often resulting in death or serious injury. This is the backlash of recent successes for gay rights. Hate crime legislation would send a message that this kind of behavior is taken just as seriously as other hate crimes. Hate crime laws already do exist for the same sort of violence against other minorities and this act has the purpose of making justice more equal.
No doubt about the increase in violence. I'm guessing the bigots still can't wrap their head around a black man in the White House.

You know, I've sat on this for a bit and I'm leaning for it. While I still believe it would be preferable to end the whole "hate crime" nonsense all together I don't see it happening any time soon -- given that hate crime laws very likely won't go away it seems far more utilitarian to just to give the same protection to everyone than to maintain protections for some while withholding it from others; given that religious institutions have used hate crimes law as justification to quell some of its opponents; given that while I do not believe hate crime laws are Constitutional, I still expect equal protections under the law, to give hate crime protection to an additional type of demographic, while violating the more absolute former principle, it advances the more practical latter.

While on principle I'm at a net sum of zero, any chance to give James Dobson a big "fuck you" is worth it.

I just called and voiced my support of the bill to Mrs. Boxer, Mrs. Feinstein, and Mrs. Pelosi.
Thanks Jack! I'm glad you did. I hope it makes a difference! :)
We punish based on the action done, and (in some instances) whether or not there was intent or premeditation. But we cannot properly administer justice while trying to penalize based on perceived motives. I have friends who have been victims of physical attacks because of their sexuality or gender identity and I obviously think that this kind of violence is atrocious and should be punished and deterred.

I just think that changing the Shephard Act in some ways would improve it, such as not calling things "hate crimes" but rather "terrorism" and trying cases as that. We have laws, precedent, and methods of prosecuting terrorists. Cross burning is intended to terrorize, so why call it a hate crime? Yes, hate is behind it. Hatred is behind all forms of terrorism. So yes, these should be considered more severe, more serious offenses in terms of their intention for far-reaching fear in a community. But let's just call it all terrorism and leave it at that. Then the fundies can't be against it, because they love hating on terrorism. It's their Big O.
Oh, if only in a more perfect world...
In case you're following the story.

The Matthew Shepard Act is currently attached to the Defense Spending bill (if you don't understand why -- well -- it'd take too long to explain).

Unfortunately, though Obama has pledged to sign the Matthew Shepard Act into law, he has also pledge to veto any spending on the F-22 Raptor that would spend money on the program after 2011 (DoDS Gates opining that the F-22 hasn't been proven to be significantly better than the less expensive F-35 to justify more than the 187 that have already been funded).

As of today, Sen McCain and Sen Levin have proposed an amendment to the defense bill to strike the F-22 from the budget. They plan to vote on that on Monday.
I totally don't understand that but thanks for the info.
It's to guarantee reconciliation. It makes sure that compromises are lived up by tying bills together like this.

Republicans who don't like the bill will vote for it because of other things that are part of it, likewise, Democrats who don't like certain parts will vote for it for things like the Matthew Shepard Act. Whether or not you agree with it, very little would get accomplished without reconciliation.
In case you're following, as of today the funds for the F-22 have been cut from the Budget Bill.

It looks like there are no more obstacles to the Matthew Shepard Act.

It looks like it will become law before the end of this session.
It passed, and I can't say it's a bad thing.




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