President Barack Obama is making a new push for the United States to ratify an international disability rights treaty.
For more information on the campaign for US ratification of the disabilities treaty (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD) check out some of these links:
In Twitter, follow some of these: @USICD @DREDF @AShettle @EsmeVGrant @SteveRodrigz @IntlDisability @AuntPip @RhondaNeuhaus
So here’s the deal: there’s a UN treaty called the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Hundreds of countries around the world have ratified it. But even though it is based on the Americans with Disabilities Act and would not change a single U.S. law, the United States has yet to ratify the treaty.
Why? Well, last year when the treaty was up for ratification some politicians decided it was going to take away US sovereignty and would prevent parents from homeschooling their kids, even though it would do no such thing because IT DOESN’T CHANGE ANY LAWS. But the scare tactics worked, and the calls against the treaty last November and December outnumbered the calls in favor 50-1. The treaty failed 61-38, five votes short of the 66 needed to ratify.
Luckily, it’s going to be up for a vote again soon, so there’s another chance to ratify the CRPD. However, unless the disability community and our allies mobilize, there’s a good chance it won’t pass.
So if this treaty doesn’t change any laws, what does it actually do?
- It gives America a seat at the table during international disability rights conversations. While our attitudes on disability are certainly not the most progressive, America is still ahead of the pack on the physical accessibility front, and ratifying the CRPD would allow us to share ideas and expertise with other countries. We would in turn benefit from hearing the innovations of others.
- It makes it easier for people to travel abroad. The more countries that ratify, the better global accessibility becomes. Everyone should have the freedom to move about as they please without having to take accessibility into account.
- It demonstrates that the disability community can actually get things done. This is maybe the most important point. If we can’t get a treaty ratified that changes zero U.S. laws, how on earth are we going to get anything else passed? You know how employment laws for disabled people are really messed up? You know how budgets for medical research are constantly being cut? We’re not going to be able to fix problems like these unless we show that the disability community is a force to be reckoned with. If you want to be an ally to the disability community, we need you on this.
So, what do we do? We need to CALL OUR SENATORS. If your senators voted for the treaty last time, call to thank them. If your senators voted against the treaty, call with your support for its passage.
And no matter who your senators are, we need to get a ton of calls into the offices listed below, because these are the people who could go either way. These are the deciding votes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a constituent (although if you are be sure to mention it).
It’ll be super quick: you call, they pick up, you say, “I’m calling in support of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” they may take your name and zip code, and the call is over. Make as many calls as you can, and please signal boost! Last time some of the anti-treaty folks were making calls for hours and hours each week, so the more calls the better, obviously.
Here are the important senators to call (makes calls between 9am and 5pm EST) and the numbers for their DC offices:
1. Corker (TN) - 202-224-3344
2. Alexander (TN) - 202-224-4944
3. Kirk (IL) - 202-224-2854
4. Flake (AZ) - 202-224-4521
5. Johanns (NE) - 202-224-4224
6. Fischer (NE) - 202-224-6551
7. Chambliss (GA) - 202-224-3521
8. Isakson (GA) - 202-224-3643
9. Cochran (MS) - 202-224-5054
10. Blunt (MO) - 202-224-5721
11. Portman (OH) - 202-224-3353
12. Coats (IN) - 202-224-56231