Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Senate Passes DOD Bill with Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Amendment Attached

Senate hate crimesWashington, DC – Last night the U.S. Senate passed the mammoth Department of Defense Appropriations Bill with the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act attached as an amendment.  HRC Backstory explains the process of reconciliation that this version of the bill will undergo in the Senate-House Conference Committee.  According to HRC Senior Policy Analyst David Stacy, “During the month of August, while the Congress is in recess, House and Senate staff will work out differences between the House and Senate bills. Most of these decisions are unrelated to hate crimes and can be worked out at the staff level. Key decisions will be made by Senators and Representatives when they return in September. Most important among these will be the final decision about whether to keep the Matthew Shepard Act. Beyond that threshold question, which we fully expect will be an emphatic “YES,” decisions will have to be made about the amendments passed by the Senate this week.”  This is great cause for celebration since LGBT people are very close to having federal protection in an unprecedented way in our history.  Not only does this legislation honor Matthew Shepard, for whom it is named.  It also remembers and honors thousands of other LGBT hate crimes victims for whom this legislative act is a vindication of sorts.  But while there is reason for rejoicing, the ultimate passage of anti-LGBT hate crimes legislation is not a done deal yet.  The DOD bill did attach other amendments, such as the Sessions Death Penalty amendments, designed to make the Matthew Shepard Act less palatable to sponsors and the public.  The protections provided in the bill for LGBT people are limited, if still important and historic.  Hate crimes against us are on the rise, and the old bromide activists rehearse, that as the younger generations take the reins of culture and government, the war against LGBT people will be over, is just not borne out by the facts.  If younger Americans are more open statistically toward LGBT people and our relationships, then why is the profile of the people who actually kill us men from teenage to mid-30s, for one thing?  So, we must keep at this work.  Those of us who believe in justice cannot rest.  Those of us who believe in justice cannot rest until it comes. [Illustration thanks to Advocate.com].

~  Stephen Sprinkle, Director, Unfinished Lives Project

July 24, 2009 - Posted by | Hate Crimes, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Special Comments, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , ,

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