Hate Crimes Bill Should Be Just The Beginning
Nobel Prize winner Barack Obama is speaking at a gay rights dinner this weekend. He at least might have some tangible progress to discuss.
The House voted Thursday to make it a federal crime to assault people because of their sexual orientation, significantly expanding the hate crimes law enacted in the days after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in 1968.
With expected passage by the Senate, federal prosecutors will for the first time be able to intervene in cases of violence perpetrated against gays.
Civil rights groups and their Democratic allies have been trying for more than a decade to broaden the reach of hate crimes law. This time it appears they will succeed. The measure is attached to a must-pass $680 billion defense policy bill and President Barack Obama — unlike President George W. Bush — is a strong supporter. The House passed the defense bill 281-146, with 15 Democrats and 131 Republicans in opposition.
"It's a very exciting day for us here in the Capitol," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., saying hate crimes legislation was on her agenda when she first entered Congress 22 years ago.
More from the Speaker's blog. Getting 130 Republicans to vote against a defense bill because of their hatred of the ghey is quite a feat. I guess "support the troops" doesn't mean all that much anymore.
That said, this shouldn't be seen as any kind of great victory for the President in terms of getting right with the gay community. They are angry, and justified in that anger.
If the President wants to live up to his Nobel (I have a feeling this will be a familiar refrain), he would preach tolerance and acceptance through deeds.
...John Aravosis has similar thoughts.
...Jon Stewart had a good bit on DADT this week.