As one who copes with blindness and reduced hearing, I am appalled by the U.S. Senate’s Dec. 4 failure to ratify the United Nations treaty granting basic rights to persons around the world who deal with one or more disabilities. Eight Republican senators, including John McCain, maimed in the Vietnam War, broke ranks to vote with every Democratic senator, only to fall short of the constitutionally required two-thirds tally to ratify treaties.
Not even retired GOP Sen. Bob Dole, maimed in World War II, could penetrate the Republican senators’ inhumane wall of opposition. Reportedly, the senators’ common excuse was that the U.N. treaty violated every nation’s “sovereignty,” even though it was the United Nations that offered the treaty in large part to bring recalcitrant nations in line with our own 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Their rejection, I aver, leaves nations at liberty to abuse and discriminate against people like me and others with disabilities.
Additionally, must we now say that treaties to end wars are invalid because they violate each nation’s “sovereign right” for endless wars? I salute President Barack Obama who immediately declared that the GOP senators’ action violated our values regarding people coping with disabilities, and that he will ask the 2013 Senate to reconsider the rejected treaty. In a supportive note to Dole, our president said, “disability rights should not stop at our nation’s shores.” Given the negating GOP senators’ misdoing, I ask: Who are the truly deaf and blind ones?