REASON 75: President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
I like President Obama for many, many reasons. I like that he’s capable of spontaneously singing some Al Green, and that he has an actual sense of humor, and that he married Michelle, and that he hired Beyoncé to serenade them when given the proper opportunity. But those are all personal things that I have seen on the Internet or on television—things about Barack Obama as a man. The list of reasons why I like Obama as a president is even longer. One of my favorite things about Obama as a president is that he will not stand for prejudice or hate. In addition to actively supporting marriage equality, with all its happy benefits, President Obama has also taken serious action against those who commit hate crimes based on sexual orientation.
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed in October 2009, eleven years after Shepard was tortured and killed in Laramie, Wyoming because of his sexual orientation. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act expanded previous legislation—for attacks based on race, religion, and national origin—to include the investigation and prosecution of attacks based on the victim’s perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.
Though it’s not the way I view the world, I understand that some people vote Republican because they think it’s better for their wallet. It’s not, unless you’re a millionaire like Mitt Romney is, but that’s another conversation. What I don’t understand is how any smart, compassionate human being can vote for a candidate like Romney, who opposes basic civil rights—such as freedom to marry—for all. I think he probably thinks the LGBTQ community doesn’t actually exist, and is just a scary figment of the communal imagination of the Big City Liberals, like some old-fashioned three-card monte dealer trying to swindle tourists out of their money.
Would Romney have signed a bill like this into law? My guess is no. Expanding the Hate Crimes Prevention Act was a sign that President Obama cares deeply about the LGBTQ community, and that he wants to protect all of us—not just some of us—from discrimination and violence. If we give President Obama another four years, just think what he could do for equality in the country.
Brooklyn, New York