"Hate crimes bill goes to Obama for signature." Read the news report here.
Read my reflections on that history making news report -- and some of the history behind it -- below:
We've been at this a LONG time. A quick check of the Episcopal Church archives showed that legislation supporting Hate Crimes Legislation by General Convention was passed in ... 1988.
In 1998 my friend -- and former Integrity President Michael Hopkins represented "us" at the funeral of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, about which he wrote:
There I came face to face with the hatred that killed Matthew in the guise of protestors from a church in Kansas led by a man named Fred Phelps. They held signs proclaiming Matthew was a "fag" who was even now burning in hell, and their verbal taunts were even more horrific. The only consolation was a group of good souls standing silently between them and those of us waiting in line in the cold outside the church.
In 2007 we lobbyed on Capitol Hill for the Matthew Shepard-LLEHCB (Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Bill) knowing that even if it MADE it out of committee and onto the floor it would die on the desk of a president who had vowed to veto it. (There's me in D.C. -- along with a great cloud of HRC witnesses!)
Also in 2007, in her letter in support of the bill passed by the Senate today, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori included this quote from former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold:
"The fact that Matthew was an Episcopalian makes our grief no more sharp, but it does give us a particular responsibility to stand with gays and lesbians, to decry all forms of violence against them - from verbal to physical, and to encourage the dialogue that can, with God's help, lead to new appreciation for their presence in the life of our church, and the broader community."
Earlier this year, I said this in an Episcopal News interview: "It's critical to get support behind this because finally we have a chance to get a hate crimes bill that will include sexual orientation and gender identity," ... "This is the time to make it happen. We have energy behind it in the House and Senate and a White House that said it will support and sign it."
This WAS the time to make it happen.
WE made it happen.
Take a minute to rejoice and be glad in that.
And then get back to work making the next thing happen!