The members of the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses are the most consistant voices for Human Rights in the United States Congress. The majority of both caucuses voted against the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act." Several of them spoke on the floor of the house against the act.
Those comments presented here were discussed on GLBPOC.
Should you wish to contact any of these Representatives they me be reached as follows below:
Hon. John Conyers, Jr.
14th Congressional District, Michigan
Rm. 2426 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Hon. Luis Gutierrez
4th Congressional District, Illinois
Rm. 408 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Hon. Sheila Jackson-Lee
18th Congressional District, Texas
Rm. 1520 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
call (202) 225-3816 and tell her office to get her on e-mail :-)
Hon. John Lewis
5th Congressional District, Georgia
Rm. 229 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
call (202) 225-3801 and tell his office to get him on e-mail :-)
Text from the Congressional Record:
DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT (House of Representatives - July 11, 1996)
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Mr. Chairman, without question, we've heard some puzzling arguments in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act .
But at least one good thing has come from this debate.
I think everyone understands better when to take my Republican friends seriously and when they are just having a good laugh at the expense of the American people.
I now realize that my friends on the other side of the aisle aren't the least bit serious when they talk about how important it is for the federal government not to interfere in the lives of our people.
I understand that they are just kidding--just teasing us--when they stress the importance of taking power out of Washington and giving it to local officials.
And now I know that their biggest joke of all is that old line about the importance of family values--all that talk about encouraging people to care about and be committed to each other.
Because the bill that most of my friends on the other side of the aisle are supporting tonight represents the polar opposite of all those lofty goals we've heard them talk so much about.
The misleadingly titled `Defense of Marriage Act ' is the ultimate in Washington bureaucracy dictating to the American people how they should live their lives.
And it is an outstanding example of telling state officials how they should legislate and make policy.
This should be a simple issue.
Unfortunately, for many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, that simple issue is politics.
It's as simple as exploiting fears and promoting prejudice.
But something more important than looking for a few extra votes should be simple, too.
Seeking an America where, all people are treated the same under the law, in every aspect of their lives--from choosing where they live to who they marry.
And one more thing should be simple.
Making sure that all Americans have the freedom to live their personal lives in exactly the way they choose.
Without being discriminated against. Without being stopped or harassed by a meddling federal government. Without being prevented by legislators from deciding what is best for them.
I think the debate we hear tonight is the very reason so many Americans are troubled by politicians exploiting the idea of `family values.'
I don't know many Americans--regardless of their political party, race, religion or sexual orientation--who don't believe that family values are vitally important.
But I also don't know many Americans who want a couple of hundred politicians in Washington to impose their values on everyone else's families.
Let me tell you about some very basic values I think we're talking about when we stand up against this bill.
The values of people who love each other. People who share each other's lives. People who care about their future and the future of those around them. People who want to make a commitment that is legal and official and is important to them.
To me, that sounds like family values.
And all of the noise we hear on the other side of the aisle sounds like politics as usual.
I encourage my colleagues in the house today--and I don't say this very often--give my Republican friends what they say they want.
Real family values. And more local control. And a federal government that stays out of American's lives.
There's only one way to do that.
Vote to defeat the Defense of Marriage Act .
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I am opposed to the rule for the so-called `Defense of Marriage Act '. The rule allows only two amendments to this very unnecessary piece of legislation. In committee, an attempt by Congresswoman Schroeder and myself to include the words non- adulterous and monogamous to the definition of marriage in the bill was rejected and because this is a modified closed rule we cannot offer this change today.
No one can deny that the family as an institution has changed dramatically since the days when our own parents were children. Today, there is no single definition of family that applies to all individuals. A family may be made up of two parents and their children, grandparents caring for grandchildren, single mothers or single fathers raising their children, couples without children, foster parents and foster children, or individuals of the same-sex living together and sharing their lives as a couple, how their relationships are handled should be left to the states. This legislation takes the right of the states away.
We need to respect the human rights of all these American families. We should not make laws which are based on an antiquated notion of what constitutes a family. This unnecessary legislation patently disregards the 14th Amendment provision that provides equal protection under the law to all Americans. I believe this legislation has been rushed forward with little thought and reason.
As a wife and a mother, I believe in the human family. The institution of marriage should be cherished and respected, however, same-sex relationships allow human beings to express their attitude of caring for each other. Recognized same-sex relationships simply allow individuals living together and loving each other to be entitled to the rights associated with a loving and caring relationship.
This legislation would define marriage as `a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife'. The word spouse would refer `only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.'
Never before has the federal government attempted to define either marriage or spouse. This has, and continues to be, the role of the states and they have done it well for the past 200 years. It is beyond the responsibility of the federal government to define marriage and impose that definition on the states.
Furthermore, even if (as the bill's sponsors claim) the federal government needs to step in to clarify differing definitions between states, this legislation is premature. Same-sex marriage is not legal in any state. Hawaii is unlikely to decide the issue of same-sex marriage for at least two years, so this legislation attacks an issue which is not yet ripe. The only reasons to deal with it now is to make it a political controversy.
Finally, since we are being forced to consider this legislation, I do not see why we could not attach the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to this legislation.
This long awaited legislation would extend federal employment discrimination protections to include sexual orientation, providing basic protection to ensure fairness in the workplace for Americans who are currently denied equal protection under the law. If we are going to consider this type of legislation a consideration of ENDA should be included. This rule does not allow for such a consideration. I urge my colleagues to vote down this rule. Thank you.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, the ill-named `Defense of Marriage Act ' is little more than a half-baked effort by the Republicans to find yet another issue which they can use to divide the country in a desperate search for votes, deep in an election year. Before we rush head long to judgment on yet another divisive social issue, we ought to at least consider the following:
There is no reason to act on this issue now. The Hawaii Supreme Court decision that the supporters of this bill are so fearful of took place way back in 1993. And the trial proceeding, which is expected to take place shortly, will be subject to appeal to the intermediate and State supreme court--no final binding decision is expected for two years at the earliest.
The States are completely free to act on their own on this issue without any help from Congress. It is black letter law that the States are free to reject marriages approved by other States which violate public policy. It is pursuant to this authority that States have invalidated marriages consummated in other States which are incestuous, polygamous, based on common law, and involve under-age minors. Ironically, by enacting this law, Congress will by implication be limiting the States' authority to reject other types of marriage which may be contrary to public policy.
The full `faith and credit' hook on which this bill is based is nothing less than a legal charade. The second sentence of the full faith and credit clause merely grants Congress the authority to specify how certain acts , records, and judicial proceedings may be authenticated. There is nothing in the full faith and credit clause which permits Congress to place a break on the application of sister States policies, as opposed to their judgments. Enacting a law of the nature before us today would be nothing less than unprecedented.
Given these problems, why are we acting today? Why has a bill gone from introduction, to hearing, to subcommittee, full committee, and now the floor in a mere two month's time? The only possible answer is that Republicans are intent on creating a political issue completely out of thin air so they can demonize gay and lesbian individuals and further divide the American people.
The Contract with America has been a flop, the Republican party is behind in the polls, and their leadership is desperately trying to manufacture `wedge' political issues. If there were any other reason, they would slow this bill down, wait for the courts and the State of Hawaii to act , and seriously analyze the legal implications of what they are doing.
Fortunately, I don't think the American people will be fooled by this legislative red herring. They want real solutions that improve their every day lives, not legislative placebos. This is legislation by mob rule and is wrong.
Mr. LEWIS of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank my friend and colleague for yielding me the time.
Let me say to the gentleman that when I was growing up in the south during the 1940s and the 1950s, the great majority of the people in that region believed that black people should not be able to enter places of public accommodation, and they felt that black people should not be able to register to vote, and many people felt that was right but that was wrong. I think as politicians, as elected officials, we should not only follow but we must lead, lead our districts, not put our fingers into the wind to see which way the air is blowing but be leaders.
Mr. Chairman, this is a mean bill. It is cruel. This bill seeks to divide our nation, turn Americans against Americans, sew the seeds of fear, hatred and intolerance. Let us remember the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths self-evident that all people are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This bill is a slap in the face of the Declaration of Independence. It denies gay men and women the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Marriage is a basic human right. You cannot tell people they cannot fall in love. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to say when people talked about interracial marriage and I quote, "Races do not fall in love and get married. Individuals fall in love and get married."
Why do you not want your fellow men and women, your fellow Americans to be happy? Why do you attack them? Why do you want to destroy the love they hold in their hearts? Why do you want to crush their hopes, their dreams, their longings, their aspirations?
We are talking about human beings, people like you, people who want to get married, buy a house, and spend their lives with the one they love. They have done no wrong.
I will not turn my back on another American. I will not oppress my fellow human being. I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Mr. Chairman, I have known racism. I have known bigotry. This bill stinks of the same fear, hatred and intolerance. It should not be called the Defense of Marriage Act. It should be called the defense of mean-spirited bigots act.
I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill, to have the courage to do what is right. This bill appeals to our worst fears and emotions. It encourages hatred of our fellow Americans for political advantage. Every word, every purpose, every message is wrong. It is not the right thing to do, to divide Americans.
We are moving toward the 21st century. Let us come together and create one nation, one people, one family, one house, the American house, the American family, the American nation.