CHILDREN'S SAFETY ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - September 14, 2005)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the hate crimes prevention amendment offered by the distinguished gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers), the ranking member on the Committee on the Judiciary, and I thank him for his strong leadership on this subject.
I disagree with the distinguished chairman of the committee. This is not a poison pill. This amendment does nothing to weaken the underlying bill. We all agree we must take strong measures to protect our children from sexual predators. As a mother of five and grandmother of five, I appreciate fully the underlying bill and intend to vote for it.
This is, Mr. Chairman, another issue; and it relates to hate crimes. This vehicle is one that gives Congress the opportunity to go on record, and hopefully in the majority, to reject hate crimes in our country. Hate crimes prevention is long overdue. Hate crimes have no place in America. All Americans have a fundamental right to feel safe in their communities. Federal hate crimes prevention legislation is the right thing to do, and we must do it now. We have waited far too long.
A year ago, a majority of this House voted to support including hate crimes prevention legislation in the Department of Defense authorization bill, on the heels of a strong vote in the Senate. Similarly, the House acted in September of 2000. Twice, the Republican leadership defied the will of the majority of the House and stripped these essential provisions out in conference. Today, we should not be denied. We will have a vote that counts.
Our Nation was founded on the principle that all are created equal, all are entitled to the protections of the laws, and all are entitled to justice. It violates this principle to have individuals in our country targeted for violence because of who they are, the color of their skin, how they worship, and who they love. The perpetrators of violence intend to send a message to certain members of our community that they are not welcome.
Mr. Chairman, this amendment is based on H.R. 2662, the Local Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005, introduced by the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers), and joined by 142 Members as cosponsors, of which I am proud to be one. It will help prevent violence visited upon individuals because of their race, sexual orientation, sexual identity, religion, national origin, gender, or disability.
As the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) explained, these protections are necessary and must be enacted into law. Who can ever forget the brutal murders of James Byrd in Texas, Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, Waqar Hasan in Texas, Gwen Araujo in California, and so many others who have died because of ignorance and intolerance. This legislation would increase the ability of local, State and Federal law enforcement agencies to solve and prevent a wide range of violent hate crimes.
Mr. Chairman, I call this very specifically to your attention and to that of our colleagues, that numerous law enforcement organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police support the need for Federal hate crimes legislation.
Mr. Chairman, as we deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we must remember that we are one America, a Nation that must be united not just in common purpose but in common effort and common community. We must work to end false distinctions among us.
In the words of my good friend, the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Lewis), who I consider to be the conscience of this House, we must strive towards our ``Beloved Community.'' ``We must move our resources to build and not to tear down, to reconcile and not to divide, to love and not to hate.''
Let that be our call. Let us live up to the ideals of equality and opportunity that are both our hope and our future. Let us pass this amendment to secure justice for all. We must continue to vote for justice, for hope, and for freedom by ensuring that hate crimes prevention provisions are enacted into law. I urge my colleagues to vote for this important amendment.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, will the gentlewoman yield?
Ms. PELOSI. I yield to the gentleman from Michigan.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to commend the minority leader on the legislative history she has recounted for the benefit of us who have dealt with this across the years and add that this is a bipartisan measure. I only wish that all of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle who support this measure would also join with their voices and their votes with us on this very important day.
We can track back a record that goes back to reconstruction where we have been trying to attempt to successfully pass this measure. So I congratulate the gentlewoman on her explanation of why we are here.
Ms. PELOSI. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Chairman, I would just say to the gentleman that we passed this legislation, as I mentioned, at least two times on the floor with Republican votes. As the gentleman knows, we do not have the majority on the Democratic side, so it was with Republican votes that we passed it before.
I, too, hope those votes will be here today because we do have an historic opportunity to pass the underlying bill but, more importantly in terms of this historical opportunity that is presented to us, to pass this amendment as well.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT