Thursday, October 29, 2009

Legislating Equality


Because I was a bit busy with other things - like tending a scratchy throat and attempting to get this podcast thing up and running - I neglected to post up an enormously important story. It's a follow up to the very recent article about the Matthew Shepard act being passed through both houses of Congress. While I could probably drone on and on about it, it would just be better to use the words of a Human Rights Campaign email I received yesterday:

Today, something extraordinary happened. Love conquered hate. After more than a decade, the inclusive hate crimes bill we've fought so hard for has been signed by the president and sealed in law.
I cannot overstate the importance of this moment. This is the first time ANY federal equality measure protecting LGBT rights has become law. The very first time. And it is the first federal law to explicitly protect transgender people. It is a touchstone in our movement, a triumph of what is right. And I truly feel things will never be the same....
Hate crimes legislation was the first piece of creating a safe environment for LGBT people – prohibiting workplace and military discrimination are the next. When LGBT people live in fear of violence or discrimination, we cannot be who we are. And when we must hide our true selves, we cannot change hearts and minds.
It took twelve years, over one million emails, faxes and phone calls to Congress, and 14 separate votes on the floors of the House and the Senate to turn the hate crimes bill into law. Right-wing groups opposed us ferociously until the very end; they knew having a pro-LGBT law on the books would be a game-changer, and it is.
It's a beautiful, astounding piece of news that I'm giddy to share with you. Almost a year ago we were simultaneously celebrating the historic election of Barack Obama while lamenting the passage of Prop. 8 in California. Today, we have a reason to believe that the country isn't completely steeped in backwoods thinking and moral legislation. The next move is to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, and then, hopefully, give equal marital rights to loving, committed couples nationwide.

In news to keep an eye on: Joe Lieberman (Dem. Senator from Connecticut) has promised to attempt to halt any legislation involving a public option-inclusive health care bill. This flip-flopping, not-really-a-Democrat Democrat Senator needs to remember what party voted him into office and take a look at what the people of that party, and the citizens of the country, actually want. I know that he should vote his conscience, but he also represents the community, and if he chooses to vote against both of those interests, then he should be readying himself for a pink slip from Connecticut citizens.

Or, at least, that's what would happen in a fair world.


Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

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