Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Obama throws us a bone; hate crimes bill delayed; complaint about bill tracking

Thankfully John Aravosis is carefully watching federal policy. In one blog post, he reveals a lot. President Obama is going to announce partner benefits for gay federal employees on Wednesday evening. I agree with him that this is a step forward, but he's also right that it has nothing to do with the president's promises. As Aravosis notes, it looks to be related to the heat that the DNC is taking over the administration's brief defending DOMA right before a big fundraiser with the GLBT community.

He also lets us in on this tidbit:

(And guess what? After the DOMA brief controversy exploded, they suddenly announced plans to do hate crimes in the Senate this week. And now, poof, the bill is dead again until at least August. And remember folks, this is the easy one - it already passed the House and Senate, and survived a Senate filibuster, in the last Congress.)

Gone until August? Why isn't anyone else telling me this? Anyone who tracks legislation and lobbies lawmakers knows that just about anything can happen to a bill. But where is the information? State legislation that TEP is monitoring, though not necessarily lobbying, is updated every week here during session. If there is a major development on a bill, we're sending out an email blast, blogging it, Tweeting, Facebooking, and MySpacing it as quickly as possible. It would be great if someone were doing the same for every major piece of federal equality legislation. Maybe someone is, but I haven't found the spot.

And it's not as if the media--national or regional--covers anything but marriage. It's no wonder none of these bills are crossing the finish line. The community kind of knows WHAT they are, but almost no one knows WHERE they are in the process. When the community doesn't know where the bills are, then we can't be counted on to contact lawmakers in a timely manner to drive votes.

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