Thursday, April 18, 2013

If Not Now, When?

Comedienne Kathy Griffin, "an honorary member of the LGBT community," has told a southern California LGBT magazine

And then Senator Rob Portman of Ohio coming out for gay marriage, which I’m going to make fun of, and here’s why: I think it’s an amazing thing—Ohio is arguably a red state, it’s on the bubble—but you don’t think it’s a little bit funny that he’s in favor for gay marriage because of his gay son? [Laughs] I mean, is that what it’s going to take? Does every United States Senator have to have a kid come out and say, “Mom, Dad, I’m gay” for them to actually believe in equal rights?

A few days after that interview was published, on Wednesday, the watered-down Manchin-Toomey initiative,  a compromise on background checks for firearms purchases (a compromise of a compromise on background checks, itself a gun control compromise), fell six votes short of a 60-vote majority in the United States Senate.  Carlee Soto, who lost an older sister at the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, was interviewed that night by CNN's Piers Morgan (video, below).

Reminded that an ex-Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee called the rejection "a great day for the Second Amendment," Ms. Soto stated "I love Sarah Palin" but added "No one is trying to take away your guns. It's just a background check. A simple background check."  (Palin actually had omitted the word "great" attributed to her by Morgan.)  She remarked also "I'm disgusted and so disappointed in our Senate... If they were to lose a loved one to a horrific tragedy like we did, they would feel the same way and I don’t wish upon anyone but if they had to bury their loved ones they would feel the same way I do..."

The American people are widely supportive of expanded background checks. (Contrary to Morgan's comment, the bill would not have included private sales.) But perhaps passage would have required a variant of the Portman Effect, something akin to the personal experience that convinced Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to advocate same-sex marriage.   (Note to the ultra-sensitive right wing: I'm not recommending an assassination or praying for murder.)   Or maybe that wouldn't get it done. For as Gabby Giffords movingly wrote in a New York Times op-ed

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

Even after a United States Representative was shot (and others killed), after 26 individuals including seven children were massacred, after the more than 3500 deaths from firearms since the incident in Newtown, Connecticut, 46 United States Senators defiantly and wantonly voted in favor of violent crime and its Washington lobby, the National Rifle Association.   Among the 54 who opted to put a brake, however slight, on the influence of the NRA were four Republicans.  None of them was named "Rob."

Quite the profile in courage, that Ohio Senator.

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