Gays Face Battles With 2008 Congress

Congress returns from their holiday break over the next week with three major pieces of pro-gay legislation still to be resolved: the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, and the bill that ripped apart LGBT and progressive groups – the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

With so many issues facing this session of Congress (the election, the war with Iraq, the banking crisis, oil prices, etc), it will be hard for LGBT activists to get the full attention of the Democratic majority in both chambers.

What’s ahead (links go to previous posts here on JMG) :

  • Last year the Matthew Sheppard Act was passed in the House and then was passed in the Senate while attached to a defense appropriation bill. It was later removed upon threat of a presidential veto. The MSA still needs to be re-approved in the Senate. Ted Kennedy has promised to reintroduce the bill during the current session. Bush has threatened to veto the MSA should it reach his desk.
  • ENDA was approved in the House in November, but the act was stripped of protections for transgenders. Ted Kennedy has indicated that he will introduce a Senate version of ENDA during this session but has said it will probably not come to a vote before the session ends. Bush has threatened to veto ENDA in any form.
  • A bipartisan group of 136 members of both chambers have signed on as sponsors of a bill to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The bill is still in committee. Bush has threatened to veto a repeal of DADT.

Sigh. It’s going to be a long year. The upside is that all of the above legislation would signed into law by a Democratic president, should we get one.