Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to H.R 3396, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and ask my colleagues to reject this mean-spirited legislation.
The proponents of H.R. 3396 would have us believe that this legislation is necessary to save the institution of marriage. The real purpose of H.R. 3396 is to create a wedge issue for Republicans for the upcoming elections.
In a shameless attempt to divide the American public, the Republican Party is espousing official bigotry. It is promoting discrimination against individuals who seek the same responsibilities and opportunities other Americans seek when they form a lifelong union with someone they love. It is scapegoating a segment of our society to fan the flames of intolerance and prejudice. And it is doing this to try to improve its standings in the polls.
Discrimination against people who are gay and committed to one another does nothing to defend marriage or to strengthen family values. It does, however, continue to deny them legal rights that married couples simply take for granted--inclusion in a spouse's health insurance plan, pension and tax benefits, the ability to participate in medical decisions, and the right to visit a dying spouse in the hospital.
Our Nation's families deserve better from their leaders than this cynical effort to raise fears and create divisions for political gain. They need leaders who will recognize the true needs of families and who are willing to work for adequate healthcare, access to educational opportunities, a decent wage, and a livable environment.
Let's work together on the real challenges we face as a nation. Let's not allow our Republican leaders to create scapegoats to distract the public's attention from the failure of this Congress to address issues the American public cares about.
In Memoriam - The Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan, priest and peace activist.