A reader writes:
You've pointed out twice now that "[n]ot a single prosecution of an anti-gay hate crime has occurred under the law in the year since it [the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009] was passed." May I point out that, as a criminal statute, the Act can only operate prospectively, under the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Constitution? As a former public defender, I'm aware that judging a statute by the number of prosecutions within a year of its enactment is a pretty bizarre metric, since only acts committed after passage are even arguably subject to prosecution under the Act. Since you earlier noted that there are investigations pending of criminal acts which might result in charges under the Act, I think the ill-founded nature of this contention is self-evident.
By contrast, I think your complaint that "it took Obama over a year to begin a year-long Pentagon review. If he had acted sooner, the review would have been done in time for the vote" is not entirely divorced from reality, but is a bit naive. Doesn't it make sense that President Obama would have wanted to forge relationships with the military brass prior to starting the review, in order to avoid the blatant, insubordinate--and successful!--sabotage that Bill Clinton was subject to?
You know, I admire the lucidity of "The Conservative Soul," the passion you've brought to your anti-torture campaign, and much you've written about Palin. But I think that you're projecting responsibility for the villainy (no other word fits) of the GOP and its demonization of GLBTs onto a single man who is trying to coax a fractious party that has been in a defeatist crouch for decades into strong action. He's not a god-king. And your reaction is, I'm sorry to say, both over the top and helpful to the Party of No.
I will gladly report any prosecutions that occur in the future that clearly would not have occurred without the Hate Crimes Act. As my reader noted, there are several investigations in process and some may get somewhere. But this act was sold as a vital defense against gay-bashing. I call bullshit on that now as I did then. It was a fundraising tool for HRC primarily and a way for the Democrats to do nothing substantive for gay equality, except treating us as victims in need of their protection. Nonetheless, I promise to provide an annual update on prosecutions to measure its impact, along with data on anti-gay hate crimes, to see if it has any effect whatever on their incidence. As to the final point, where is there evidence that the president has done a single thing to "to coax a fractious party that has been in a defeatist crouch for decades into strong action"? I see none. No speeches defending gay equality, except to the pathetic tool of the Democrats, the Human Rights Campaign. No public support on marriage equality, which he formally opposes, even as a majority of the public backs it. He even prevented anyone in the administration from celebrating the end of the HIV travel ban before it was passed, so scared was he of Republican bigots. I know. I tried to report on the record about progress but was told shhhh - we might alert the right.
I don't think anyone can possibly accuse me or the Dish of excusing or ignoring the virulent and disgusting homophobia of the Christianist GOP. There is no comparison on the merits between their hate and contempt and the president's indifference and cowardice. But I refuse to have their bile held over my head as a reason to shut up about the Democrats' uselessness and this president's betrayal of almost every single promise he made about gay equality in the campaign.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.