On July 26, 1990, when President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on the lawn of the
About two weeks ago, an email popped into my inbox explaining that the
The Disabilities Convention is an international treaty championed by the
Taking my seat at the Senate hearing, it was clear that support for the disabilities convention was overwhelming. The hall was packed with enthusiastic disabled individuals, and senators — both
Of all the arguments delivered at the hearing, here are the four most compelling reasons why the Senate should ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:
•If we don't ratify the convention, America will continue to be left out of international forums, silencing one of the leading voices for disability rights.
•By ratifying the convention, the U.S. is sending a strong message to countries where discrimination and exclusion of persons with disabilities still persists.
•If ratified, the convention would require no changes to U.S. law and could not be enforced in U.S. courts. The Americans with Disabilities Act already grants disabled individuals living in the U.S. all the rights and freedoms specified by the treaty. In addition, there's no financial cost to ratifying. Win-win.
•Finally, 50 million Americans, including 5.5 million disabled veterans, deserve to live, work, study and travel abroad with the same rights and freedoms found at home. The U.S. can only make this a reality by fully joining the global conversation as a party to the convention.
Because the disabilities convention has attracted an extraordinary bipartisan agreement that's so unusual in Congress these days, many in the audience were shocked to see a resentful minority oppose the convention, going to extreme lengths to derail ratification.
Leading the opposition is Sen. James DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, who took several opportunities to voice his opinions at the hearing (often out of turn), citing vague, misinformed fears of "entangling alliances" and loss of U.S. sovereignty. Also opposing the convention is the Home School Legal Defense Association, which erroneously claims that U.S. sovereignty is being ceded to United Nations bureaucrats, threatening parental control over children with disabilities.
In fact, the Senate has passed several treaties under similar circumstances before, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Last Thursday marked the 22nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This week, the Senate will consider approval of the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Although I could not witness the signing of the ADA, I am exceedingly aware that we are now facing another crucial moment for disability rights.
With support from more than 165 organizations, including 21 veterans and military organizations, President