It doesn't get more basic - or more politically easy - than hate crimes legislation. Unfortunately, a handful of House Democrats refuse to support even the most basic of our shared Democratic and American values.
On October 6, 2009, twenty-two House Democrats voted to strip language from the Defense Authorization bill to expand the federal hate crimes law to include protections on the bases of actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
While there are plenty of
areas where we have room to disagree as Democrats there can be no compromise on
the need to enact pro-equality legislation at the federal level that extends
basic fairness and equal opportunity to all Americans regardless of sexual
orientation or gender identity. Stonewall
Democrats cannot - and will not
- turn a blind eye when Democratic lawmakers take stands against basic
fairness and equal opportunity for LGBT Americans.
The following twenty-two Democratic Members of Congress voted to remove the Matthew Shepard Act from the Defense Authorization bill:
- Marion Berry
- Dan Boren (OK-2)
- Bobby Bright
- Travis Childers
- Artur Davis
- Lincoln Davis
- Joe Donnelly
- Chet Edwards
- Brad Ellsworth
- Bart Gordon
- Parker Griffith
- Frank Kratovil
- Jim Marshall
- Mike McIntyre
- Scott Murphy (NY-20)*
- Collin Peterson
- Mike Ross (AR-4)
- Bobby Scott
- Heath Shuler
- John Tanner
- Gene Taylor
- Harry Teague
The measure and vote referenced here, called a "motion to instruct" and offered up by House
Republicans, would have instructed the conferees to remove the Matthew
from the Defense Authorization bill. These twenty-two Democrats sided
Republicans to remove the hate crimes provision, which would have
effectively continued the decade-long gridlock over passage of the
Matthew Shepard Act. See below section of "Update and Notes" for further information.
*Please see the Updates section below for more information about Representative Scott Murphy's and Representative Bobby Scott's votes on this measure.
It is the opinion of the board of directors of the National Stonewall Democrats Political Action Committee that Members of Congress who vote against the expansion of basic fairness and equal opportunity have not earned your vote or your financial support. Furthermore, it is the opinion of the board that such Members of Congress should not receive support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or state coordinated campaigns in their re-election bids to the U.S. House.
Democratic Members of Congress who vote against the expansion of basic fairness and equal opportunity water down the will of the Caucus. They create gridlock for pro-equality and progressive legislation that prevents Congress from moving forward on important issues facing our country. Their resistance to progress, if not challenged and pushed back by the Democratic leadership and their colleagues will lead to stalemate on the important issues of the day and losses for the Democratic Party in the 2010 cycle. As LGBT and allied Democrats, we cannot stand idly by as the best interests of our community, our Party and our country are cast to the side.
Click here to join us in making a financial contribution to our Political Action Committee today to hold Democrats accountable in meaningful ways.
Your financial support makes possible our work to ensure that the most pro-equality Democratic candidates win the nomination of our Party in primary elections, and to engage in strategic elections work the ensures increases in the number of pro-equality Democrats serving in Congress.
UPDATE AND NOTES
- Stonewall Democrats has been contacted by the office of Representative Scott Murphy, who wishes our members and supporters to know that he supports the expansion of hate crimes legislation based on sexual orientation and gender identity and is a co-sponsor of both the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal legislation. His vote on this measure was strictly procedural.
- Representative Bobby Scott, who is a co-sponsor of ENDA, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal and DOMA repeal, released the following statement in explanation of his vote to strip the hate crimes bill from the Defense Authorization issued October 6, 2009:
Congressman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, Chairman of Subcommittee on
Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security on the House Judiciary Committee,
issued the following statement regarding his Yea vote on the Republican
Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 2647, the National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010:
"I am a supporter of the Hate
Crimes Prevention Act. The House passed a version of the Act that I not
only voted for, but spoke in favor of through committee and Floor
proceedings. I also supported the similar version of the Hate
Crimes Prevention Act that passed both the House and Senate last Congress,
but was taken out of the military authorization bill during the Conference
"The version of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act
that was the subject of the Motion to Instruct Conferees today is a version
of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed by the Senate that I cannot
support. Not only does that version contain a gratuitous death penalty,
but also a superfluous mandatory minimum sentence, and what I believe to be
unconstitutional infringements upon freedoms of expression and association.
"I am an opponent of the death penalty as a
matter of moral principle, and because death penalty administration in this
country has been shown to be applied in an arbitrary manner and to be
irrevocably fraught with mistake, racism, classicism, and other
problems. I am also an opponent of mandatory minimum sentences, as a
matter of principle. Mandatory minimum sentences have been rigorously
studied and have been consistently found to distort rational sentencing
principles, to be applied in a racially discriminatory manner and to violate
commonsense - even when everyone agrees a mandatory sentence is
inappropriate to the facts and circumstances of a particular case, the
mandatory sentence still has to be applied as a matter of law.
"Finally, I am a strong supporter of our First
Amendment freedoms, including the freedoms of belief, expression and
association. By allowing evidence of belief, expression and association
to be admitted to prove that a hate crime was committed, without requiring
that the belief, expression or association be shown to have a specific
connection to the offense charged, is an impermissible infringement upon
those freedoms, I believe.
"For these reasons, I voted for the motion to
remove the version of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in H.R. 2647, the
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, considered
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