The House and Senate have passed legislation extending federal hate crimes protection to gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability. This victory on the second most important piece of lgbt civil rights legislation is very important. From the Advocate 10/22/09:
The Senate voted 68 to 29 Thursday to pass a Defense Department funding bill that includes a measure extending hate-crimes protections to people targeted on the basis of their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.
The National Defense Authorization Act now goes to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.
We can not relax and assuming that President Obama will do the right thing. He has broken a wide range of promises on numerous issues including Iraq, illegal wiretapping, and restoring the rule of law. We need to keep up the pressure in order to try to make sure Obama signs the legislation.
Please Contact the White House!
The Mad Professah Lectures makes an excellent point about the legislation:
Today's 68-29 vote on the final version of the Department of Defense spending bill means that the federal hate crimes bill will become the first piece of federal legislation that includes gender identity and the first major piece of civil rights legislation on the LGBT agenda to be enacted.
The legislation had overwhelming Democratic support and heavy Republican opposition. People in the queer community might be interested in knowing that Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell voted against the legislation.
Russ Feingold, a Democrat, voted against it on the grounds that it was attached to legislation funding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Some Republicans voted for it, including Ensign, McCain, Cornyn, Hutchison, Lugar, Bond, Voinovich, Snowe, and Collins. In some cases, it was difficult to know if they really supported extending hate crimes protections or if they didn't want to vote against the Defense Appropriations bill it was attached to.
Even with this victory, we must keep our eyes on the most important queer civil rights bill in Congress, ENDA. Kevin Cathcart of Lambda Legal made an excellent point in its 10/22/09 Press Release:
"Now that the Hate Crimes Act has passed adding protections for all members of our community against violence motivated by hate, Congress must also pass an inclusive ENDA to protect us against discrimination on the job. The majority of Americans support workplace protections for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people and there is no reason for further delay," Cathcart added.