Once again, Congressman John Lewis speaks for me.

Today he testified over at the Senate in support of the Freedom to Marry Bill. This anti-DOMA bill  is receiving a near historic hearing. President Obama has endorsed the Freedom to Marry Bill.

Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley, Members of the Committee, I thank you for inviting me to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.  It is an honor to be here. 

I am very happy to see the Judiciary Committee holding hearings to address the issue of marriage equality.  But at the same time, Mr. Chairman, I must admit I find it unbelievable that in the year 2011 there is still a need to hold hearings and debate whether or not a human being should be able to marry the one they love.

I grew up in southern Alabama, outside of a little city called Troy.  Throughout my entire childhood, I saw those signs that said “white restroom,” “colored restroom,” “white water fountain,” “colored water fountain.”  I tasted the bitter fruits of racism and discrimination, and I did not like it.  And in 1996 when Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, the taste of that old bitter fruit filled my mouth once again. 

The Defense of Marriage Act is a stain on our democracy.  We must do away with this unjust, discriminatory law once and for all.  It reminds me of another dark time in our nation’s history, the many years when states passed laws banning blacks and whites from marrying.  We look back at that time now with disbelief, and one day we will look back on this period with that same sense of disbelief.

When people used to ask Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. about interracial marriage, he would say, “Races do not fall in love and get married.  Individuals fall in love and get married.”  Marriage is a basic human right.  No government, federal or state, should tell people they cannot be married.  We should encourage people to love and not hate.    (more)

Human rights, civil rights, these are issues of dignity.  Every human being walking this Earth, man or woman, gay or straight, is entitled to the same rights.  It is in keeping with the American promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  These words mean as much now as they did at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

That is why Congress must not only repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, but work to ensure full marriage equality for all citizens, together with the privileges and benefits marriage provides.  All across this nation, same-sex couples are denied the very rights you and I enjoy. They are denied hospital visitation rights, and they are denied equal rights and benefits in health insurance and pensions, simply because the person they love happens to be of the same sex.  Even in states where they have achieved marriage equality, these unjust barriers remain, all because of the Defense of Marriage Act. 

            Unfortunately, too many of us are comfortable sitting on the sidelines while the federal government and state governments trample on the rights of our gay brothers and sisters.  As elected officials, we are called to lead.  We are called to be a headlight, and not a taillight.  So I applaud the work of Congressman Nadler and Senator Feinstein, and I applaud the Senate Judiciary Committee for holding this hearing.

I urge this Committee, the Senate as a body, and the United States Congress as a whole to pass the Respect for Marriage Act as soon as possible.  Justice delayed is justice denied, and passing this bill is simply the right thing to do.

            More than just our constituents, these are our brothers and sisters.  We cannot turn our backs on them.  We must join hands and work together to create a more perfect union.  We are one people, one family, the American family, and we all live together in this one house, the American House.

            Mr. Chairman, I thank you again for inviting me to testify.”

DOMA’s ugly history here.

{UPDATE} Rep. Lewis’s testimony in 3 mins here. You can ignore the guy in the second part of the video. He does not speak for me.

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6 Responses to Congressman John Lewis speaks for me, again!

  1. Julez says:

    Charming article written by one of the Congressman interns this summer.

    http://intheworld.berkeley.edu/2011/07/walking-with-the-congressman/comment-page-1/#comment-145

    They describe walking with him exactly as I’ve witnessed.

  2. Raquel Morris says:

    Wonderful statement from our Congressman. He continues to stand up for freedom.

    I wish he would take the time to speak up about our public school crisis back here at home.

  3. JMPrince says:

    Why Cong. John Lewis is great, Part 65: He stands tall among moral midgets & worthless, venal & corrupt know-nothings:

    Norm Ornstein in ‘Foreign Policy’: “Worst. Congress. Ever.”
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/07/19/worst_congress_ever?page=0,0

    Sort of an update on his book: “The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track”. JMP

  4. JMPrince says:

    I’m jealous of course. I’m not recalling a Congressman who represented me I could be so consistently proud of. In other late night news, I think Eric actually read this too:

    http://fb.me/X2WzJmAt

    Some of my better efforts. But human progress is slow all around.
    JMP

  5. Tim says:

    One more reason why I love my Congressman

  6. BEZERKO says:

    “…a human being should be able to marry the one they love.”

    It’s as simple as that. It’s about LOVE, not about you know what.