Today, despite the support of 328 disability and veterans organizations and passionate leadership and advocacy by Senators John Kerry (D- Mass) and John McCain (R-Ariz), the Senate voted 61-38 against ratification of the U.N. Convention on Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
CEC’s members have advocated tirelessly for ratification of the treaty – sending thousands of letters and meeting personally with their Senators many times urging them to ratify. They were joined in their efforts by former U.S. Senator and longtime disability supporter Bob Dole, who personally contacted close to every Senator and urged ratification. Senator Dole was honored by the disability community and his fellow Senators today at an event at the Capitol just before the treaty vote. Senator Dole was joined by his wife of 37 years, former Senator Elizabeth Dole and both of them discussed his lifelong commitment and many career accomplishments helping individuals with disabilities. Senator Dole also expressed his concern about the false statements about the CRPD and the inability for the truth to take hold.
Unfortunately, while many thought this might be an ideal moment for the CRPD to pass, several outside groups began spreading incorrect information about the impact of the treaty – most notably that it would infringe on the rights of U.S. citizens, especially those who home school their children. While this is false, and it is without question that ratification of the treaty would have no impact on federal law, the fear created by this misconception was difficult to counter.
While this is a sad day for the United States, the spirit of the CRPD is alive and well. CEC’s President, Margaret McLaughlin stated, “CEC remains dedicated to the ratification of the U. N. Convention on Persons with Disabilities and to celebrating the contributions to society made by persons with disabilities. CEC stand by our belief in the dignity and worth of all individuals, as well as the need for inclusiveness and social justice for all.”
Read President McLaughlin’s full statement here.
Read CEC’s Issue Brief on the CRPD here.
It is critically important that disability advocates follow up with their Senators, either to (1) thank them for their support and encourage it in the future or (2) to urge them to reconsider their position and support the CRPD. Emailing your Senators the proper message is easy! Just enter in your zip code below and the CEC Legislative Action System will automatically provide you with the appropriate email that you can tailor.
Let’s keep the momentum going in support of individuals with disabilities in the US and abroad!