Thursday, May 3, 2007

Bush on the Veto Again?

Apparently, the deciding guy has threatened that he will not sign a bill that would expand the definition of a hate crime to cover sexual orientation, gender, and disability. This is how the law stands now from the first time it was passed following the political assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968:

...federal authorities can investigate and prosecute violence motivated by a victim's religion, race, national origin or color if the act is committed against someone engaged in a federally protected activity, such as voting or attending public school.
The current bill suggests the expansion of federal authority to help state and local law enforcement better enforce the laws. As usual, such a law that actually suggest defending the interests of gay people, women, and blind/handicapped (I'm not calling you either differently abled or handicapable, wheelchair bound people) in America has raised the ire of the conservative (read: white) members of government as well as groups that believe in traditional values.

Members of the house Judiciary Committee wrote, "Justice should be blind to the personal traits of victims" in voicing their opposition to the change in law. In general, I would agree, but there is a problem here: there is no such thing as blind justice. Gary Graham aka Shaka Sankofa was killed by this President on the evidence of a sole witness who acknowledged that it was dark and couldn't clearly see the person. As well, there was ZERO physical evidence that linked him to the scene, and this is the age of DNA testing, I mind you. Apparently, this paper thin case was good enough for the White jury and for Bush, who did not give him a stay and killed Sankofa in cold blood. He is only one person out of hundreds of similar cases.

People are frequently targeted because they are a specific thing. Gwen Araujo was killed in cold blood because she was a transsexual. Matthew Shepard was killed because he was gay. These people need protection from homicidal maniacs who only want to kill them because they don't like who they are. That's a hate crime just as much as someone killing me because I'm Black or killing an upstanding American citizen because they are Islamic. Gays, lesbians, and women suffer enough in this country. They need to get the protection that they deserve from the law as well.

And this all comes back to the deciding guy. So, decider, are you going to extend appropriate protection against hate crimes to other marginalized groups or are you going to fall in lockstep with your conservative cronies and veto a completely essential bill. Wait, wait, let me guess.