GOP Threatens "Hate Crimes" Lockdown
However, the House GOP is throwing down the gauntlet on the issue. Rep. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) appears to be leading the charge and has threatened to "lock the House down" if the bill comes to the floor. The GOP appears ready to exploit their newly found numerical advantage if necessary. With the deaths of two Democratic representatives, the Democratic majority has gone from 63-41 to 61-41. Those two vacancies render House Democrats short of the necessary 3/5 majority necessary to stop debate (assuming the GOP votes in a block). And with ailing Rep. Lucius Black (D-York) unable to attend the session, there are actually only a maximum 60 Democratic votes available at any given time.
And it is this parliamentary maneuver that Republicans are threatening to employ if the Holmes' bill makes it to the floor. So, don't hold your breath in expectation of seeing an up or down vote on this bill. But if Democratic leaders decide to push the issue, then there will definitely be some fireworks.
I don't really understand either party's strategy on this issue though. Democrats had been distancing themselves as much as possible from any hint of social liberalism. And while adding sexual orientation is not an especially radical notion, it does give Republicans some chance to brand Alabama Democrats with the dreaded "L" word. No, not that one -- the other one.
And I'd think the AL GOP would jump at a chance to put House Democrats on record for or against this bill. It's no secret that the Republican road to a House majority runs through conservative Democratic districts. Wouldn't this be a good opportunity to put such members on the defensive? Republicans are almost letting the Democrats off the hook by preventing a vote.
I am especially curious about the Republican strategy because it is coming directly from their leadership, while the bill passing committee may or may not have had the blessing of Hammett and Guin. At the very least I doubt that the bill was originally backed by the Democratic leadership, but instead forced upon them by an insistent caucus.
And the situations are too different to be fairly compared, but in some ways State House Republicans are threatening to engage in the same "obstructionist" tactics over which US Senate Republicans berate Senate Dems. How long can it be until Seth Hammett compares Mike Hubbard to Tom Daschle?
But maybe I am missing some brilliant strategic gambit by one or both of the parties. Either way, it'll be interesting to see if Democrats force a showdown on the bill and if so just how far Republicans are willing to take their hardball.