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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Scorecard for Evaluating Democratic Results for Gays

Take it away Dale Carpenter:

it must be admitted that Republican congressional leaders tried to do more harm than they actually did, as by pushing for a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Republican congressional leaders also set a tone of hostility toward gay Americans, exemplified by the comments of former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) warning that decriminalizing gay sex would lead to “man on dog.”
"We will hear pleasing and soothing words from congressional leaders for a change. The federal marriage amendment won’t even get a vote for the next two years. But is this enough?"

The Democrats will be an improvement on this. The tone will be much better. We will hear pleasing and soothing words from congressional leaders for a change. The federal marriage amendment won't even get a vote for the next two years.

Is this enough? For some people it will be. Moreover, all manner of excuses will be made for any lack of action: why pass legislation the President will veto, other matters require more immediate attention, the Democrats can't afford to be seen as beholden to "special interests," it's more important to concentrate on electing a Democrat to the White House in 2008, and so on.

For those who expect more in exchange for gays' loyalty to the Democrats, here is a point system for grading them.

(1) Federal recognition of gay relationships (up to 50 points): Congress could vote to repeal DOMA (35 points). It could vote to give spousal benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees (15 points). At a minimum, Democratic leaders could hold hearings on these matters that will get the ball rolling toward eventual federal recognition of gay relationships (3 points).

(2) Gays in the military (up to 30 points): With strong Republican support, a Democratic Congress and Democratic president gave us "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 1993. The new Democratic Congress could make amends by voting to repeal the law, leaving to the president the power to decide whether to allow gays to serve (20 points). Or it could vote simply to ban discrimination against gays in the military (30 points). At a minimum, Democratic congressional leaders could hold hearings on anti-gay discrimination in the military (3 points).

(3) ENDA (up to 15 points): Seventeen states and the District of Columbia already prohibit employment discrimination against gays. A federal bill making this national policy has been pending in Congress in one form or another for more than three decades. The latest version being pressed by national gay groups would also ban discrimination against transgendered people, which complicates its chances of passage even with Democrats in control. Congress could pass the legislation (with or without protection for transgenders) (15 points), though it might pass a weak bill with lots of broad exemptions for small businesses, religiously affiliated institutions, and the like (deduct one point for every 10 percent of gay employees not covered). At a minimum, congressional leaders could schedule another round of hearings (1 point).

(4) Hate crimes legislation (up to 5 points): There's no evidence hate crimes laws actually deter hate crimes. There's little evidence the states aren't already prosecuting anti-gay crimes. But a federal law would have some symbolic value. Congress could pass such a law (5 points). Yet a federal hate crimes law might be unconstitutional. Alternatively, Congress could pass a bill assisting local law enforcement with the investigation and prosecution of such crimes (up to 4 points). Hearings on this are of little value (1 point).

Dale predicted a low score for the democrats. Is there anyone who will predict a reasonable score.