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Motion To Instruct Conferees On H.R. 2647, National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2010

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I agree: it makes no more logical sense to add a hate crimes bill to the Defense bill than it would to take a bill requiring people to be allowed to use their guns in the national parks to a credit card bill. But that's what the Senate did. The Senate added a bill dealing with the rights of gun owners in the national parks to the credit card bill with which there was no logical connection.

Now, I wish the Senate wouldn't do things like that. I wish a lot of things. But when we are confronted with the reality of the Senate, we have to act.

Now, it is conceivable that you would have people who are so devoted to the principle of having no illogical attachment that they would oppose it in every case. I must have been in the Cloakroom when Republicans rose to denounce the Senate for adding the bill allowing the use of guns in parks to the credit card bill. That was done. Not a single Republican, to my recollection, objected. Indeed, quite to the contrary, they all voted for it, which makes it very clear: the objection here is not to the Senate adding an unrelated bill, because the Republicans in this House have voted for that time and time and time again. It is an objection to protecting against hate crimes people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Now, some say we shouldn't have these hate crimes laws. But their inconsistency is I don't remember them trying to repeal the hate crimes laws that are on the books. There is nothing new about hate crimes here. There is nothing new about its constitutionality. By the way, if you say violence should be violence, how about somebody having the intellectual integrity to get up and repeal that statute that says, if someone assaults someone standing next to me, it might be a misdemeanor, but if somebody assaults me, a Member of Congress, it's a Federal felony. We have a major distinction. We are protected by special laws, older people, people who are religious. Then they say, it's a matter of choice. The level of intelligence involved in thinking that being gay or lesbian is a matter of choice aside, religion is a matter of choice. People convert to religions. Does that mean we shouldn't protect people against hate crimes based on religion?

Finally, we are told this is being sneaked through. One of the earlier speakers, in a total flight from reality, said it is being sneaked through. It passed the House. It was debated. It went through the regular committee process, and it passed the House. Yes, from time to time, the United States Senate, which has no rules preventing it, adds unrelated bills. If there are Members who have consistently opposed that practice, they have the right to oppose it here and say that is the reason.

But Members who have voted for legislation which the Senate attached to unrelated legislation who claim now to be offended by that practice clearly have no logical or other basis on which to make that claim.

There are people who do not think we should add a very vulnerable category, particularly people who are transgender, to the hate crimes protection. They lost that fight when we had it in the House. I would have had it come up again, but it is clearly just another example of another time-tried practice.

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Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. So little time, so many fallacies. The first fallacy is that we were not comparing the credit card bill to the defense bill; we were talking about a regular practice. It wasn't just the credit card bill. Regularly for years the Senate does this, and no Republican has ever risen to object to it. Their objection is not to the procedure, but to the substance. Nothing is being held hostage. The bill will pass or fail. If it failed because of this, it would come back without it.

Secondly, the gentleman's last point is simply nonsensical: one arrest that was inappropriate. There have been other inappropriate arrests. Hate crimes bills have been in effect, hate crimes laws, at the Federal and State level for years. There is zero example of that happening. There is an amendment offered by the gentleman from Kansas that makes it impossible.

When people use wholly irrelevant arguments against the bill, it means that they can't find a real argument that they want to use.

Finally, the gentleman from California, the ranking member said, don't have these hate crimes, violence is violence, or one of the Members said that. I guess then he is opposed to that amendment which prohibits a tax on U.S. servicemen on account of service because that is in here. There is in here a provision that protects servicemen who are attacked on account of service. If you are opposed in principle to that, then you ought to be opposed to that in general.

It is clear there is an animus against those of us who are gay or lesbian, against people who are transgender, on the part of many in the House, and they are reflecting a strong political sentiment in the country. They are entitled to it. I do not lament the loss of their friendship and affection; I can live without it. But it should not lead them to deny protection to vulnerable people, and we are talking here about crimes, not just murder, but about assault and destruction of property which are too often ignored.

So let's be very clear. There is no consistency to the argument about the procedure. There is no consistency to the argument about hate crimes. There is no validity whatsoever to the argument that some clergy would be arrested or prosecuted because none have been. This is simply a declaration of unhappiness that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are getting some protection.

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