Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Politicking the Matthew Shepard Act

A few days ago, the Matthew Shepard Act -- adding sexual orientation and gender identity/expression to the federal hate crimes statute -- was attached to the $680B Department of Defense 2010 authorization bill, which Obama had threatened to veto due to an egregious outlay for a F-22 building program. Unfortunately, such politicking begets more politicking, especially when the budget of the DoD is probably one of the more contentious things you can touch after 7 years or so war in two countries:
  • The F-22 funding was stripped today from the Senate bill 58-40. Though it makes Obama happy, the money was approved by the House. Even if the new bill passes as is, the two chambers have to reconcile the differences. Who knew any of us queers woudl care about a couple of fighter planes quite so much?
  • The ACLU has come out against the Senate version of the bill, saying that the Senate version lacks "the strong protections for speech and association" found in the House version.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who is, btw, against the Matthew Shepard Act and voted against its passage, added three new amendments to the bill, in a move that seems to be directed at killing it. The three amendments would allow the death penalty for some hate crimes cases, would require the Justice Department to revise its standards of a hate crime, and would create an additional set of punishment for crimes involving servicemembers. The HRC tells us why these additions are absurdities.
Friend of the blog "Maybe it's just me..." has a list of who voted for and against the Act in the Senate. All the Senators from Ohio and Indiana voted for it, whereas Bunning (KY) voted against it and McConnell.. umm didn't vote?

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