Gabriel Arana is a senior editor at The American Prospect. His articles on gay rights, immigration, and media have appeared in publications including The New Republic, The Nation, Salon, The Advocate, and The Daily Beast.
Today, the Senate joined the House in passing the Matthew Shepard Act, which
provides for stricter sentences if a crime appears to be motivated by anti-gay bias.
It's near certain that Obama will sign it, giving the Human Rights Campaign
a public relations boost and likely a fundraising bump. But in reality, the lobbying crusade for this legislation doesn't amount to much more than wasted effort and lost opportunity.
This weekend, thousands of gay people will descend on Washington to participate in this year's National Equality March, which calls for "equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states." Organizers have planned workshops and genteel cocktail hours leading up to Sunday's march on the Capitol, but these events aren't really what most people are coming for.
Judy and Phillip Shepard, parents of the late Matthew Shepard,
during a dedication of the Matthew Shepard Memorial Bench Saturday,
Sept. 27, 2008 in Laramie, Wyo. (AP Photo)
Since Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered a decade ago, his story has achieved the status of parable, illustrating how ugly anti-gay bigotry really is. Every year, thousands of high school students across the country perform Moises Kaufman's play, The Laramie Project, which recounts the aftermath of Shepard's murder through the eyes of the local residents.
Today, Judge Vaughn Walkerdenied a motion by various gay-rights organizations -- including Lambda Legal and the ACLU -- to intervene in the federal challenge to Prop. 8. He did, however, allow the city of San Francisco to join, saying its interests were not already represented by other parties. This decision leaves former Bush v. Gore foes David Boies and Ted Olson at the helm of the broadest legal case for gay rights to date.
Equality California, the gay-rights organization that spearheaded the failed No on 8 campaign, announced today it would shoot for 2012 instead of 2010 to try to repeal California's new constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. They reason -- correctly, in my estimation -- that waiting will give gay-rights supporters more time to win people over and allow more youth, who overwhelmingly support gay rights, time to enter the voting pool. It also makes getting donations easier, if the effort is seen as more likely to be successful.