(House of Representatives - June 20, 2012)

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[Pages H3809-H3810]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. While there have been occasional steps backward in 
America's march towards equality for all citizens, progress and 
understanding have marched steadily onward. As a result, America is 
more diverse, and it is better for it; but we must continue to work 
hard to create a truly equal and just society.
  Discriminating against an individual based on race, religion, or 
sexual identity is deplorable and unacceptable. Historically, the LGBT 
community has faced significant discrimination, but the country has 
come a long way in recent years in attitude. Most Americans are more 
accepting regardless of one's sexual orientation, but there remain too 
many areas where society still must translate the attitude of most 
Americans into rights and protections for all citizens.
  LGBT students should be able to learn in a safe school environment, 
free of cruel bullying, psychological or physical abuse. The term 
``bullying'' actually does not capture the behavior and the threat. 
Foster children should be adopted by loving families regardless of the 
parents' sexual orientations. Of course, most fundamentally, Americans 
should be afforded the right of marriage whether they are gay, lesbian, 
bisexual, or transsexual--the same as heterosexual couples.
  I've been involved with these issues since I first chaired a hearing 
in the Oregon House of Representatives on antidiscrimination in 1973, 
right through today, in advocating the repeal of DOMA. I've been proud 
to work for equality throughout my career, but there remains much work 
to be done.
  In the name of extending equal rights to all Americans, no matter who 
they love, at a minimum, we should take the following steps:
  Most importantly, we should aggressively support marriage equality 
for all. The Respect for Marriage Act will repeal the Defense of 
Marriage Act and will guarantee that the Federal Government will 
recognize any marriage that is legal in the State in which it is 
  The lowest hanging fruit is workplace discrimination. It is long past 
time to enact the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, which would 
make it illegal to discriminate in the workplace based on actual or 
perceived sexual orientation or gender identity;
  Educational institutions must be safe places for young people to 
learn and grow without the threat of bullying or the risk of being 
denied the chance to participate in extracurricular activities based on 
their identities. We

[[Page H3810]]

should pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Tyler Clementi 
Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2011;
  We must stand up for real family values and support the Every Child 
Deserves a Family Act. All parents who wish to adopt a foster child 
deserve the chance to do so no matter their sexual identities;
  Finally, I strongly support amending the Immigration and Nationality 
Act to grant same-sex partnerships the same rights and privileges as 
any other partnership.
  One of the most important milestones in this struggle was the 
endorsement recently by President Obama and Vice President Biden of 
marriage equality for all Americans. With renewed momentum and with 
continued hard work, we will not only achieve marriage equality for our 
LGBT friends and families, but equality and fairness in all aspects of 
  Make no mistake, we are not striving just for tolerance; we are 
striving to make this country more equitable, just, and fair so that 
every man, woman, and child has the opportunity to pursue their dreams 
in a safe and accepting environment. Such freedom is the very 
cornerstone on which a livable community is established, where families 
are safe, healthy, and economically secure.