Gloria Prevost, head of the Columbia, S.C.-based group Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, said the treaty is modeled after the 1990 U.S. law.
“That law has done amazing things for people with all sorts of disabilities, and we would like to see something like it expanded across the world,” she said. “This treaty will protect Americans citizens who work, study, travel or live abroad.”
Many disabled children are educated at home, and some prominent home-school advocates oppose the U.N. treaty. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a 2012 presidential candidate, joined their ranks last week with his wife Karen.
DeMint is also trying to block Senate ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, collecting signatures from 30 Republican senators on a letter opposing it.
Graham has not signed the letter. He has close ties with Pentagon leaders, among them Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and senior military officers, and influential business groups that support the treaty.
The accord was first adopted at the United Nations in 1982 but rejected by President Ronald Reagan. After it was amended in 1994 to address U.S. concerns, Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush sought ratification, but the treaty has never reached the Senate floor. A total of 161 nations have ratified it.
At a Senate hearing in May, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the treaty would help U.S. naval ships navigate by defining international sea laws. Hillary Clinton criticized opposition to the accord.
“It’s unfortunate because it’s opposition based on ideology and mythology, not on facts, evidence or the consequences of our continuing failure to accede to the treaty,” Clinton said.
DeMint, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and other Senate foes say the accord would impose new royalties on American oil and natural gas exploration under the sea and expose the United States to lawsuits by international environmental groups.
Andrew Nathan, a political science professor at Columbia University, said the treaty has protections against impingements on U.S. sovereignty.
“It’s not like the international community would send in sheriffs with handcuffs forcing us to do something,” he said.
DeMint is mobilizing opposition to the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, which is in final negotiations at the United Nations.
Supporters say the accord will help prevent terrorists or other extremist groups from getting weapons, but the National Rifle Association is warning it could be used to block sales to Americans.