SPEECH IN CONGRESS OPPOSING DOMA by Rep. John R. Lewis
Honorable Congressman John R. Lewis, (D-GA) delivered the following speech on
1996-JUL-11 in opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
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
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
register to vote, and many people felt that was right but that was wrong. I think as
elected officials, we should not only follow but we must lead, lead our districts, not put
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
against Americans, sew the seeds of fear, hatred and intolerance. Let us remember the Preamble
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
This bill is a slap in the face of the Declaration of Independence. It denies gay men and
right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Marriage is a basic human right. You cannot
people they cannot fall in love. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to say when people
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
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
fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand
against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Mr. Chairman, I have know racism. I have known bigotry. This bill stinks of the same fear,
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
to our worst fears and emotions. It encourages hatred of our fellow Americans for
advantage. Every word, every purpose, every message is wrong. It is not the right thing to
We are moving toward the 21st century. Let us come together and create one nation, one
one family, one house, the American house, the American family, the American nation.
Reference: Congressional Record: 1996-JUL-11, Page H7441-H7449
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