Pelosi Pays Tribute to America's Teachers
Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke this evening at the Commonwealth Academy Educator Award Ceremony, where she presented Jennifer Comeans of San Francisco with the Commonwealth Academy Recognition for Educators (CARE) Award . Below are Pelosi's remarks as prepared:
"Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
"I thank the distinguished Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Conyers, for yielding time, but more importantly, for bringing this important legislation to the floor in his ongoing, long commitment to justice in our country. And I want to commend Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and Congressman Barney Frank for their leadership. It is an honor to call you colleagues. Thank you for giving us the opportunity today to make America more American.
"Every day that we come to this floor, we honor the tradition of our founders: that every person is created equal, and that we are all God's children. Every day that we come to this floor, we pledge allegiance to the flag. And at the end of that pledge, we say, with liberty and justice for all.' And that is what today is about. Because in the preamble to the Constitution, which we take an oath to, we talk about forming a more perfect union. They knew that our Constitution had to be amended; they knew we had to move to a more perfect union in terms of legislation to reflect the values of our country. And so we are here today to expand those values to the hate crimes prevention legislation.
"What I am so interested in is the fact that so many law enforcement organizations have endorsed this legislation. My colleagues have spoken eloquently as to why this is about the values of our country. They have spoken clearly about the need for this legislation. But I think it bears repeating that many law enforcement organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Sheriffs Association, the Police Executive Research Forum, as well as nearly 30 state Attorneys General across the country, support the need for federal hate crimes prevention legislation. They are joined by the more than 230 civil rights, education, religious, and civic organizations who have voiced their support.
"Let us be clear that this Congress, that this House of Representatives, has heard their call. Hate crimes have no place in America - no place in a nation where we pledge every morning with liberty and justice for all.' We must act to end hate crimes and save lives.
"This legislation will help prevent bias-motivated violence based on religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, national origin, or disability, while respecting the First Amendment rights of free speech and religious expression. It increases the ability of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to solve a wide range of violent hate crimes.
"We in our country take pride in saying that we moved to end discrimination of all kinds. Today, we have an opportunity to end discrimination and the violence that goes with it that equal a hate crime.
"So whatever you may think of any one of us, based on our ethnicity, or our gender, or whatever, you have no right to act upon that opinion in a violent way. Who would disagree with that?
"Who of us can think of the story of the Shepard family and the Byrd family and so many examples that we have of this and not say that is wrong? And at the very least, we can pass legislation that tells federal authorities that they can assist state and local authorities in enforcing the law. Over 100,000 hate crimes have been reported since 1991; there are so many more that go unreported. Many of them unprosecuted.
"So today, let us take this step forward that is consistent with the values of our founders, both in terms of all being equal and our faith that we're all God's children. But also consistent with the call in the preamble to form a more perfect union. I urge a yes vote."