Alabama Hate Crimes law update, and Stonewall Findings

The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill to add crimes against people because of their sexual orientation to the hate crimes law. Now the bill goes to the Senate, but with only a couple of days left in the current session, it is unlikely to be considered, what with things like stimulus check exemptions and the education budget. Plus they have to consider whether to change the name of Troy State University to Troy University. Is there a sense of urgency there?

But the passage of the bill in the House is progress. At least one Republican, Pat Moore, changed her vote and voted with the majority. Change comes slowly. Progress continues.

The Stonewall Democrats conducted a census during December 2007 and January 2008 to gauge the feelings of GLBT Democrats across the nation. While not a scientific study, the results do provide a snapshot of the opinions of the community. Respondents were from all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico.

Here are some highlights. On whether ENDA, the Employment Non Discrimination Act should be an inclusive bill, meaning protections based on gender identity should be a part, along with sexual orientation, 85% said passing an inclusive ENDA should have a high priority level, and 70% said even if that means delayed passage. I agree strongly.

Here are the top 5 issues of importance to the GLBT community (although with the economy tanking priorities may have changed since this survey was taken).

  1. Civil liberties. You know, things like freedom of speech and separation of church and state.
  2. Affordable Health care.
  3. GLBT Equality. Among GLBT issues, Non-discrimination, relationship recognition, HIV/AIDS and Repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell received the highest priorities.
  4. Ending the War in Iraq.
  5. Improving Education and the Environment. (tie)

13% reported that they have served in the military. This is higher than the national average. This tells me that GLBT community is interested in serving the country and willing to fight for the liberties and rights that many of us do not have yet. And it is gives credence to the effort to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” DADT doesn’t really make sense anyway, as detractors say keep the ban because military personnel don’t want a gay or lesbian in the foxhole or the tent with them. But DADT allows them to be there, and they are there, fighting right beside you.

24% of respondents have children. This tells me that GLBT reproduce, something I already knew. But that is a lot of kids who would like to see their parents treated equally and their relationships recognized.

Again, these results were not scientific, but they give an idea of what Democrats who are members of the GLBT community (the ones most likely to vote and who are involved in policy and priority determination) feel.

As for the Alabama Stonewall Democrat Chapter the next meeting is Thursday, May 15 at Logan’s Roadhouse in Crestwood (7724 Ludington Ln.) at 5:30. We will be holding a candidate screening, during which we will try to determine the qualifications and priorities of the candidates and how they relate to the community. We will be voting in June for candidates for judgeships, tax assessors and other offices for which we often don’t know a lot about the candidates, so this is an opportunity to meet and hear some of them. Put this on your calendar now, and if you are not involved this would be a good time to show up and become a part of this progressive grassroots organization.

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