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David Sibley would have to broker a deal. On Thursday evening, before his caucus met, he must have thought he had succeeded. But after the caucus, Sibley walked into the committee room and quietly told Democratic Committee Chair Ken Armbrister, sitting alone on the dais: “It’s a no go.” “When he said that,” Armbrister said later, “I realized there was no reason to wait any longer.” So Armbrister summoned the committee, which slowly convened into a somber and dramatic tableau. At stage left sat a sober Senfronia Thompson, House sponsor of the bill the Senate committee was about to kill. Below her, in a seat usually reserved for a committee clerk, sat Austin Representative Glen Maxey, the only openly gay member of the Legislature. To Thompson’s right sat an expressionless Rodney Ellis. Next to Ellis, with a pained look frozen onto her face, Florence Shapiro. Then Mike Jackson, John Whitmire, Kenneth Armbrister, Robert Duncan, Royce West, Jane Nelson. Duncan, pale and drained, appeared ill. West, a huge and usually robust man, looked down at the microphone with a lugubrious expression on his face. Even before Nelson began to make the argument that “if this bill could end hate …” and Shapiro followed with her rationalization that “categories divide us rather than uniting us” there was no need to vote,. The Republicans had gone to their caucus with a bill they said they could vote for, and returned only to kill it. No one expected Shapiro, Nelson, or Mike Jackson of LaPorte \(an unreflec vote with the Democrats. CANDIDATE BUSH WOULD BE CONBUT IF THE BILL WERE INDEED TO PASS THE SENATE, PRESIDENTIAL FRONTED WITH THE PROSPECT OF Thursday night was Bob SIGNING A BILL THAT WOULD OUTDuncan’s moment. After RAGE THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT asking several questions about procedure, in an al most inaudible voice, he voted “Presentnot voting” as did his three Republican colleagues. The Hate Crimes Bill was dead. Immediately following the vote, West argued that the bill could be revived. “We’re not through. It’s not dead,” he said to Ellis and Whitmire. “We’re going to State Affairs.” West quixotically hoped to bring another version of the bill to the State Affairs Committee, which had suspended its meeting so that its chair, Florence Shapiro, could participate in the negotiations on the Hate Crimes Bill. In the Senate chamber, where Shapiro’s committee was still at recess, West and Whitmire spent an hour with Jeff Wentworth arguably the most moderate Republican in the Senate. When the Democrats felt they had their votes lined up, West attempted to be recognized. Rather than allow Royce West to have the floor, Shapiro gaveled her committee to adjournment. The Hate Crimes Bill was again dead. On Friday, in a day of parliamentary tactics unlike anything seen since a group of senators knows as the Killer Bees shut down the Senate twenty years ago, Ellis, Whitmire, and West would try unsuccessfully to revive it. What killed it? “There are only two differences between today and 1993,” Whitmire said, recalling the year when the current hate crimes law \(so vague that it will likely be crimes. And we are in a presidential campaign.” It has been widely reported that the Governor said he would consider signing the bill if it made it to his desk. But if the bill, overwhelmingly passed out of the House, were indeed to pass the Senate, Presidential Candidate Bush would be confronted with the prospect of signing a bill that would outrage the Christian right whose support he believes he needs to win the Republican nomination. Senate passage of a hate crimes bill would also be a liability for Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry. James Leininger, a Christianright multi-millionaire and Perry’s biggest financial backer \($1.5 has failed to get a voucher bill onto the Senate floor, and one of the session’s two major tort reform bills is dead in a Senate committee, while the other passed the Senate but is moribund in a House committee. Like Bush, Perry loses should a hate crimes bill pass. “You want to know what this is about?” asked a Senator who requested anonymity. “See that little lady lobbyist from the Eagle Forum? She’s been all over the Republicans on the [Criminal Jus A Renee Mullins, James Byrd ‘s daughter Jana Birchurn tice] committee. The right-wing, the 20-percent, Republican Christian right, are driving this whole train.” On Friday the train arrived at its terminus. Democrats began the day with a walkout and thirty minutes of group prayer under the Capitol rotunda. Then, through a creative “filibuster by personal privilege speech,” they shut down the Senate. Perry realized he had See “Hate Crimes,” page 21 MAY 28, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11