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SEVEN THOUSAND Lashes and Twenty Blows to the Head

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(OKLAHOMA CITY)  As we approach the ninth anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard (October 12, 1998) it's neither sentimental nor maudlin but realistic to reflect on two festering sores that have finally broken open this past month in the Congress. Their maturation has been a long time reaching this point but I'm afraid suppuration will begin again from the re-infection and contamination by the homo-haters that are spread throughout the body politic.

I"m speaking of the LGBT-inclusive Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill recently passed by Congress and awaiting the signature of the appointed president of the United States.

The other wound is the bill known as ENDA, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which originally included LGBT coverage but has undergone a bifurcation: one version includes trans-people, the other version doesn't.

A tried and true supporter of gay/lesbian equality AND an out gay man, Rep. Barney Frank, veteran of more political fights than most of us will ever have OR win, is in the pillory for having the insight to know that an ENDA bill including trans-people will not pass the House.

In order to save something from the fire of religious brimstone, Rep. Frank has, or rather HAD, proposed a revised ENDA that didn't include trans-people, as well as a version that DID include trans-people.

As a result of so many of our out-of-touch gay leaders getting in high dudgeon, somewhat removed from the hurly-burly of making a living in the real world, leaders who live in comfortable situations--not rich perhaps, but with stability and some security in their lives and protection from discrimination--have gone after Rep. Frank with a vengeance.

Let me remind everyone of a very vital detail that has gone unprinted and unsaid in all the emails and newsprint over the last week---the appointed President Bu$h WILL NOT SIGN ANY BILL NAMED "ENDA" THAT HAS ANY GLBT FRIENDLESSNESS IN IT, EITHER WITH A T OR WITHOUT A T!  And any bill that should be passed will NOT have the votes to override the veto roadblock.

Just as the appointed President Bu$h vetoed the SCHIP child insurance bill overwhelmingly passed by Congress (only his fourth veto in seven years) so will he veto the Shepard Hate Crimes Bill with some hair-splitting minutia of financial mendacity.

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This lame duck administrator has nothing to loose by extending minority discrimination until the end of his term.

Where were we  when the body of Matthew Shepard was treated like a piece of fast-food trash?  More than 20 blows to his head fractured it in six places.  Where was our lasting presence then, that only NOW, NINE years later, we are getting a hate crimes bill that includes gays and lesbians, AND the trans-people?

And this bill as well, WILL NOT GET SIGNED BEFORE 2009, IF THEN!

Where are we going with smacking our friends and supporters over a bill that will NOT GET SIGNED???

As John Aravosis has said in a Salon.com article ( http://tinyurl.com/2heqcq, and http://tinyurl.com/2fdaoy )

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asking what relevance trans-people, who are mostly not gay, have to gay men and women, he writes they're more like cousins than siblings.  And like him I'll settle for half-a-loaf rather than none at all.

In the mean time, and I'm referring to mean as in CRUEL, we have credible news stories reporting two gay men in Saudi Arabia are receiving as we speak, in the installment plan, a total of SEVEN THOUSAND LASHES ACROSS THEIR BARE BACKS!

Imagine being murdered a bit at a time, traumatized with loss of blood, shocked with pain, terrorized with the knowledge that even should you survive the first slashing installment of lashes, there will be many more such sessions as Islamic doctors diagnose and prognosticate that you've recovered enough for the next relay of torture. 

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James Nimmo is active in progressive issues and believes no one should be denied their equality because of the accidents of birth and circumstances.

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