28 October 2009

Good news from Washington, bad news from Texas, and a long fight ahead

First the good news:

Today, October 28th, President Obama will sign the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. The U.S. Senate passed this legislation last week, after the House passed it earlier this month. This measure expands the 1969 federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Some members of Matthew's family with be there at the signing. I'm sure it will be a bittersweet moment for the family, and I applaud their bravery and resolve in working so hard to get this legislation passed in Matthew's name.

Now the bad news:

Last evening, the state of Texas executed yet another man who may have been innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. Reginald Blanton was killed by lethal injection just after 6:00 pm Texas time on Tuesday.

For details about this case and the evidence as to Blanton's innocence, see my October 25th blog post here.

Lessons learned:

While we should celebrate our small but significant victories for progress, like the Matthew Shepard Act, we must not rest on our laurels. There is much more work to do, in Texas and beyond.

Frankly, I would like nothing more than to have no more injustices to write about. But, as long as human beings live together in society, I fear that conflicts and injustices are unavoidable. But we don't have to put up with them in silence. We can make a difference. So stay tuned, dear reader. We've got our work cut out for us.

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