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Gutierrez on DOMA: "I Told You So"

Location: Washington, DC

Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) addressed the Congress and recalled a speech he gave on July 11, 1996 urging his colleagues to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act. The Congressman voted against DOMA and yesterday tweeted to his 23,700 plus followers, "I told you so."

Yesterday, the Secretary of Homeland Security indicated she would act without delay to make sure our immigration laws reflect the Supreme Court's decision striking down DOMA, saying in part, "Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today's decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws."

The Congressman applauds the expediency with which the Obama Administration is acting and indicated that there is no legal barrier to the Department of Homeland Security immediately issuing green cards and taking other immigration-related actions in light of the Supreme Court's ruling.

A video of the Congressman's speech this morning (delivered at approximately 10:00 a.m. ET) is available here:

The text, as prepared for delivery is here:


Mr./Madam Speaker:

Yesterday, a short time after the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act violated the Constitution of the United States, an immigration judge in New York stopped the deportation of a man who is legally married to an American citizen.

According to press reports, the bonds of marriage that tied Sean, an American citizen, to Steven, a native of Colombia, were invisible in the eyes of the law before about 11 a.m. Eastern time yesterday morning.

But after the Supreme Court announcement, the bonds of marriage that drew these two individuals together in love and in the sight of God, all of a sudden became visible to the United States government. They materialized before our eyes, allowing a spouse of a U.S. citizen to live peacefully in the United States with his spouse as our immigration laws intended.

What a difference a day makes!

Well, actually this step towards justice took a great deal longer than a day.

I am proud that the Supreme Court finally caught up to Sean and Steven.

I am glad that the law of the land finally caught up to the American people who generally feel that marriage equality -- like other forms of equality -- is a good thing.

I am glad the Supreme Court caught up to the 21st Century.

And I am glad the Supreme Court caught up to me.

In fact, what does a 21st century Congressman do on such occasions? I tweeted.

And what I tweeted was: "I told you so."

It was right here on this spot on July 11, 1996, that the House passed DOMA.

I came to this well and walked up to the distinguished gentleman from Massachusetts, Barney Frank, who controlled the time on the Democratic side and I asked him if I could speak on the bill.

I had a great deal of respect for the gentleman from Massachusetts and I have a great deal of respect for him today, now that he is happily retired and happily married.

But on that particular day, he said to me "Luis, I only have time for people who will oppose the bill, Shoo. Go away."

Who knows? Maybe it was a mild case of profiling, but he saw a Latino Catholic from the Midwest and just assumed I would not be with him.

I assured the gentleman that as an Alderman, as a Congressman, and as just a man, I was against discrimination, bigotry and unfairness wherever and whenever I saw it and that I had fought hard to help Chicago pass a groundbreaking ordinance on LGBT equality in the 1980s.

The gentleman smiled and welcomed me to the team and yielded me 3 and a 1/2 minutes.

I went back to check the record to see what I had said that night and you know what? The 2013 me agrees wholeheartedly with the 1996 me.

I pointed out that the supporters of DOMA were wrapping themselves in family values, when in fact they were preventing families from being recognized as families.


I don't know many Americans--regardless of their political party, race, religion or sexual orientation--who don't believe that family values are vitally important.

But I also don't know many Americans who want a couple of hundred politicians in Washington to impose their values on everyone else's families.

Let me tell you about some very basic values I think we're talking about when we stand up against this bill.

The values of people who love each other. People who share each other's lives. People who care about their future and the future of those around them. People who want to make a commitment that is legal and official and is important to them.

To me, that sounds like family values.

End quote.

I am proud to have spoken up. I am proud to have voted against that bill. I am proud to have stood shoulder to shoulder with Barney Frank and many other heroes who said "no" then and can now say, as I did yesterday, "I told you so."

Now, we need to take another vital step right away.

The immigration judge that stopped Steven's deportation because of his legal marriage to an American citizen is absolutely right.

But we need to make sure our immigration laws reflect the post-DOMA reality across the board.

If the Obama Administration needs to write regulations to make sure our immigration laws match the Constitution of our nation, then they better get to work. We cannot afford delay.

Same sex couples form families. Our immigration laws are supposed to honor families, so, Mr. President, please make it clear, from your office on down, that family unity means all families. We have waited long enough.

The highest court in the land helped us take another step against discrimination. Now we must ensure that the administration of the law catches up to the letter and the spirit of the law.

All families, like Steven and Sean's, must be recognized as families for the purposes of our immigration laws.

What a difference a day makes!

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