Few people have the power to change the world with only the power of their pen. Even if that change only protects those who are most at risk of violence and victimization. Today, as we speak, President Barack Obama has signed the Matthew Shepard Hate crimes bill into law.
I imagine the presidents inbox looks rather full and on the top of today's "to do" pile would be sitting this particular bill as he takes it off the pile and holds it up to the light...duly considering its benefits and implications while thoughtfully stroking his chin. Then, with great care, he places the document on his desk and reaches for his silver presidential pen, The heaviest pen ever made, carrying with it the weight of conscience and history. He sweeps aside the flotsam and jetsam of presidential duty (like a Doma repeal and a moratorium on Don't Ask Don't Tell). Then, With one fluid movement he signs his name and ...
and then what?....hopefully LGBT people who have been waiting for YEARS to see this basic legislation passed can sleep a little easier, along with the rest of us...one hopes.
I wonder if the president thought about what motivated the creation of the original hate crimes bill in 1969 and if, when he signs this document, he sees the provisions added for GLBTQ people as a logical extension of the spirit of the original bill.
the protections added to the bill include these:
*expands the definition of a hate crime to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
*removes the current prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally-protected activity, like voting or going to school;
*give federal authorities greater ability to engage in hate crimes investigations that local authorities choose not to pursue;
*provide $10 million in funding for 2008 and 2009 to help state and local agencies pay for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes;
*require the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track statistics on hate crimes against transgender people (statistics for the other groups are already tracked).
All good stuff right? Surely these items stand on there own merit and the need for them is self evident? Not likely..In order to help ensure passage this bill had to be added into a Defense Department Reauthorization bill for F-22 fighter jets....Huh?...In order to get this passed, nearly ten years later, all we needed to do was staple it to an order for more fighter planes?....Abraham Lincoln must be proud.
I'm sure this event would have been altogether peaceful if not for the chants and sign waiving of those who consider his signing of this bill a "slap in the face to religious freedom". Sorry guys...the back of the line for hate crimes claims is behind us....and Hey!, I thought the constitution allowed for religious freedom...Hmmm...musta read that wrong....I think it also allows for protection from religion too....don't know why the would've needed that in there...oh well.
In this article from Good As You The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission was quoted as saying this:
"To sign the [hate crimes bill] in the Rose Garden is another slap in the face and shows the level of contempt President Obama has for the majority of Americans who oppose the "homosexualization" of marriage and public education.
The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission will soon be announcing its plans, along with other leading pro-family groups, to defy, counter and challenge this unconstitutional attack on our religious liberty."
Obama's Hate Crime Laws are 'Hate Christian' Laws [Christian NewsWire]
First off what the hell does a making gay bashing officially illegal have to do with marriage or education? Once again the fundies show that it isn't about marriage, or the children. They view us as a taint on society that has to be scrubbed out with their particular brand of brain bleach.
And how exactly do you "defy and counter" a hate crimes law? Find and beat homosexuals? Oppose the due process of law? A Law that was enacted through proper legal channels by elected officials?
And the bit that pisses me off the most...protecting GLBT people from being attacked, beaten, and killed just because of their GLBT status IS NOT AN ATTACK ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY!!!!!!.....unless your religion condones such attacks. Does it? I don't remember EVER hearing that in church and if you wanna bring up the old testament...BRING IT....and I hope your living by ALL of what it says...that is the only way to be true to its words and intention. Anything less is sacrilege by old testament standards.
So...as you see...its never just a pen stroke. Its a statement that launches a thousand lawsuits. Even before the ink dries the fight is renewed to show America how to live up to its hype. To honor its own constitution and treat everyone equally under the law.
Lets hope it doesn't take another ten years to see Doma dead and gone.