Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Vote Against People with Disabilities

Around the world, 126 countries have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Unfortunately, the United States is not one of those countries.

Today, all but eight Republicans in the Senate voted against ratifying the treaty, which
was modeled after the Americans With Disabilities Act. The Senate actually voted 61-38 in favor of ratification, but a full two-thirds majority was required -- and the count was five votes short.

The treaty was supported by disability advocates, veterans groups, and prominent Republican leaders, including former Senator Bob Dole and Senator John McCain.

I'll let two senators explain for themselves why they voted the way they did:

For:
Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.): "It really isn't controversial. What this treaty says is very simple. It just says that you can't discriminate against the disabled. It says that other countries have to do what we did 22 years ago when we set the example for the world and passed the Americans with Disabilities Act."


Against:
On the other hand, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) apparently doesn't think too highly of the United Nations, saying "I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society."

While supporters of the treaty made the case that the treaty would not change American law, opponents like the Heritage Action for America claimed that it would lead to more abortions, interfere with the rights of parents to homeschool their children, and "erode the principles of American sovereignty and federalism." As crazy as it sounds, those arguments were enough to persuade 38 Republican senators to go on record as opposing the rights of people with disabilities. I wonder if disability groups will remember those 38 when they run for reelection.
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