Gay Primary Source

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

President Lauds Hate Crimes Bill

"To all the activists, all the organizers, all the people who helped make this day happen, thank you for your years of advocacy and activism, pushing and protesting, that made this victory possible. You know, as a nation we've come far on the journey towards a more perfect union. And today, we've taken another step forward. This afternoon, I signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This is the culmination of a struggle that has lasted more than a decade. Time and again, we faced opposition. Time and again, the measure was defeated or delayed. Time and again we've been reminded of the difficulty of building a nation in which we're all free to live and love as we see fit. But the cause endured and the struggle continued, waged by the family of Matthew Shepard, by the family of James Byrd, by folks who held vigils and led marches, by those who rallied and organized and refused to give up, by the late Senator Ted Kennedy who fought so hard for this legislation, and all who toiled for years to reach this day. You understood that we must stand against crimes that are meant not only to break bones, but to break spirits - not only to inflict harm, but to instill fear. You understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights - both from unjust laws and violent acts. And you understand how necessary this law continues to be. In the most recent year for which we have data, the FBI reported roughly 7,600 hate crimes in this country. Over the past 10 years, there were more than 12,000 reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation alone. And we will never know how many incidents were never reported at all. And that's why, through this law, we will strengthen the protections against crimes based on the color of your skin, the faith in your heart, or the place of your birth. We will finally add federal protections against crimes based on gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. And prosecutors will have new tools to work with states in order to prosecute to the fullest those who would perpetrate such crimes. Because no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love. No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are or because they live with a disability. At root, this isn't just about our laws; this is about who we are as a people. This is about whether we value one another - whether we embrace our differences, rather than allowing them to become a source of animus. It's hard for any of us to imagine the mind-set of someone who would kidnap a young man and beat him to within an inch of his life, tie him to a fence, and leave him for dead. It's hard for any of us to imagine the twisted mentality of those who'd offer a neighbor a ride home, attack him, chain him to the back of a truck, and drag him for miles until he finally died. But we sense where such cruelty begins: the moment we fail to see in another our common humanity - the very moment when we fail to recognize in a person the same fears and hopes, the same passions and imperfections, the same dreams that we all share. We have for centuries strived to live up to our founding ideal, of a nation where all are free and equal and able to pursue their own version of happiness. Through conflict and tumult, through the morass of hatred and prejudice, through periods of division and discord we have endured and grown stronger and fairer and freer. And at every turn, we've made progress not only by changing laws but by changing hearts, by our willingness to walk in another's shoes, by our capacity to love and accept even in the face of rage and bigotry. In April of 1968, just one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, as our nation mourned in grief and shuddered in anger, President Lyndon Johnson signed landmark civil rights legislation. This was the first time we enshrined into law federal protections against crimes motivated by religious or racial hatred - the law on which we build today. As he signed his name, at a difficult moment for our country, President Johnson said that through this law "the bells of freedom ring out a little louder." That is the promise of America. Over the sounds of hatred and chaos, over the din of grief and anger, we can still hear those ideals - even when they are faint, even when some would try to drown them out. At our best we seek to make sure those ideals can be heard and felt by Americans everywhere. And that work did not end in 1968. It certainly does not end today. But because of the efforts of the folks in this room - particularly those family members who are standing behind me - we can be proud that that bell rings even louder now and each day grows louder still." President Barack Obama, October 28, 2009 (Remarks by the President at Reception Commemorating the Enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act).

President Signs Hate Crimes Bill

"So today I'm pleased to say that we have proved that change is possible. It may not come quickly, or all at once, but if you push hard enough, it does come eventually. Now, speaking of that, there is one more long-awaited change contained within this legislation that I'll be talking about a little more later today. After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are. I promised Judy Shepard, when she saw me in the Oval Office, that this day would come, and I'm glad that she and her husband Dennis could join us for this event. I'm also honored to have the family of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, who fought so hard for this legislation. And Vicki and Patrick, Kara, everybody who's here, I just want you all to know how proud we are of the work that Ted did to help this day -- make this day possible. So -- and thank you for joining us here today. So, with that, I'm going to sign this piece of legislation. Thank you all for doing a great job. All right. (The Act is signed.) (Applause.) 2:52 P.M. EDT." President Barack Obama, October 28, 2009 (Remarks by the President at the Signing of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Senator Feingold Exlains 'No' Vote

"I oppose this legislation because it does nothing to bring our open-ended and disproportionate military commitment in Afghanistan to an end and or to ensure that our troops are safely and expeditiously redeployed from Iraq. I am concerned that our current military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan may undermine our ability to combat al Qaeda while imposing a tremendous burden on our brave service members and on American taxpayers. This bill includes several important provisions, including provisions I authored that will help improve care for wounded warriors, and the hate crimes legislation that was first introduced over eight years ago. But I cannot support a bill that does not do enough to protect our country from our top national security threat, al Qaeda." Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold on the Department of Defense Authorization Conference Report Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

US Senate Passes Hate Crimes Bill

H.R.2647 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Engrossed Amendment as Agreed to by Senate) - Division E - Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act - Section 4702 - Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The incidence of violence motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim poses a serious national problem.
(2) Such violence disrupts the tranquility and safety of communities and is deeply divisive.
(3) State and local authorities are now and will continue to be responsible for prosecuting the overwhelming majority of violent crimes in the United States, including violent crimes motivated by bias. These authorities can carry out their responsibilities more effectively with greater Federal assistance.
(4) Existing Federal law is inadequate to address this problem.
(5) A prominent characteristic of a violent crime motivated by bias is that it devastates not just the actual victim and the family and friends of the victim, but frequently savages the community sharing the traits that caused the victim to be selected.
(6) Such violence substantially affects interstate commerce in many ways, including the following:
(A) The movement of members of targeted groups is impeded, and members of such groups are forced to move across State lines to escape the incidence or risk of such violence.
(B) Members of targeted groups are prevented from purchasing goods and services, obtaining or sustaining employment, or participating in other commercial activity.
(C) Perpetrators cross State lines to commit such violence.
(D) Channels, facilities, and instrumentalities of interstate commerce are used to facilitate the commission of such violence.
(E) Such violence is committed using articles that have traveled in interstate commerce.
(7) For generations, the institutions of slavery and involuntary servitude were defined by the race, color, and ancestry of those held in bondage. Slavery and involuntary servitude were enforced, both prior to and after the adoption of the 13th amendment to the Constitution of the United States, through widespread public and private violence directed at persons because of their race, color, or ancestry, or perceived race, color, or ancestry. Accordingly, eliminating racially motivated violence is an important means of eliminating, to the extent possible, the badges, incidents, and relics of slavery and involuntary servitude.
(8) Both at the time when the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution of the United States were adopted, and continuing to date, members of certain religious and national origin groups were and are perceived to be distinct `races'. Thus, in order to eliminate, to the extent possible, the badges, incidents, and relics of slavery, it is necessary to prohibit assaults on the basis of real or perceived religions or national origins, at least to the extent such religions or national origins were regarded as races at the time of the adoption of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution of the United States.
(9) Federal jurisdiction over certain violent crimes motivated by bias enables Federal, State, and local authorities to work together as partners in the investigation and prosecution of such crimes.
(10) The problem of crimes motivated by bias is sufficiently serious, widespread, and interstate in nature as to warrant Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes.

Passed by the Senate, October 22, 2009

YEAs - 68 - Akaka (D-HI) - Baucus (D-MT) - Bayh (D-IN) - Begich (D-AK) - Bennet (D-CO) - Bingaman (D-NM) - Bond (R-MO) - Boxer (D-CA) - Brown (D-OH) - Burris (D-IL) - Cantwell (D-WA) - Cardin (D-MD) - Carper (D-DE) - Casey (D-PA) - Collins (R-ME) - Conrad (D-ND) - Cornyn (R-TX) - Dodd (D-CT) - Dorgan (D-ND) - Durbin (D-IL) - Ensign (R-NV) - Feinstein (D-CA) - Franken (D-MN) - Gillibrand (D-NY) - Gregg (R-NH) - Hagan (D-NC) - Harkin (D-IA) - Hutchison (R-TX) - Inouye (D-HI) - Johnson (D-SD) - Kaufman (D-DE) - Kerry (D-MA) - Kirk (D-MA) - Klobuchar (D-MN) - Kohl (D-WI) - Landrieu (D-LA) - Lautenberg (D-NJ) - Leahy (D-VT) - Levin (D-MI) - Lieberman (ID-CT) - Lincoln (D-AR) - Lugar (R-IN) - McCain (R-AZ) - McCaskill - D-MO) - Menendez (D-NJ) - Merkley (D-OR) - Mikulski (D-MD) - Murray (D-WA) - Nelson (D-FL) - Nelson (D-NE) - Pryor (D-AR) - Reed (D-RI) - Reid (D-NV) - Rockefeller (D-WV) - Sanders (I-VT) - Schumer (D-NY) - Shaheen (D-NH) - Snowe (R-ME) - Specter (D-PA) - Stabenow (D-MI) - Tester (D-MT) - Udall (D-CO) - Udall (D-NM) - Voinovich (R-OH) - Warner (D-VA) - Webb (D-VA) - Whitehouse (D-RI) - Wyden (D-OR).

NAYs - 29 - Alexander (R-TN) - Barrasso (R-WY) - Bennett (R-UT) - Brownback (R-KS) - Bunning (R-KY) - Burr (R-NC) - Chambliss (R-GA) - Coburn (R-OK) - Cochran (R-MS) - Corker (R-TN) - Crapo (R-ID) - DeMint (R-SC) - Enzi (R-WY) - Feingold (D-WI) - Graham (R-SC) - Grassley (R-IA) - Inhofe (R-OK) - Isakson (R-GA) - Johanns (R-NE) - Kyl (R-AZ) - LeMieux (R-FL) - McConnell (R-KY) - Risch (R-ID) - Roberts (R-KS) - Sessions (R-AL) - Shelby (R-AL) - Thune (R-SD) - Vitter (R-LA) - Wicker (R-MS).

Not Voting - 3 - Byrd (D-WV) - Hatch (R-UT) - Murkowski (R-AK)