I'm sorry for the lousy title of my thread, but I want to share with you one of the greatest speeches ever said in the Senate's floor: the speech of Senator Everett M. Dirksen on Civil Rights during the debate before voting for cloture on the Civil Rights Bill of 1964. This Republican from Illinois was the minority leader and his support was vital to get enough Republican's votes to obtain the super-majority needed to close debate and allow a vote on the bill.
I know many African-Americans find offensive even the comparison of the Civil Rights movement with the movement in support of Gay Marriage. I value their feelings and I don't intend to disrespect their achievements. However, the fact that the House rejected today the Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage makes me remember the ideas of this great Republican. In many ways, I think his words are as powerful today as they were 40 years ago. The Republicans in the Senate and the House should carefully consider his ideas. I strongly invite you to read in full is speech, you won't be disappointed.
"It is said that on the night he died, Victor Hugo wrote in his diary, substantially this sentiment:
Stronger than all the armies is an idea whose time has come.
The time has come for equality of opportunity in sharing in government, in education, and in employment. It will not be stayed or denied. It is here."
"Years ago, a professor who thought he had developed an uncontrovertible scientific premise submitted it to his faculty associates. Quickly they picked it apart. In agony he cried out, "Is nothing eternal?" To this one of his associates replied, "Nothing is eternal except change."
"As Lincoln once observed:
The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must first disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save the Union."
"To you, my Republican colleagues, let me refresh you on the words of a great American. His name is Herbert Hoover. In his day he was reviled and maligned. He was castigated and calumniated. But today his views and his judgment stand vindicated at the bar of history. In 1952 he received a volcanic welcome as he appeared before our national convention in Chicago. On that occasion he commented on the Whig party, predecessor of the Republican Party, and said:
The Whig party temporized, compromised upon the issue of freedom for the Negro. That party disappeared. It deserved to disappear. Shall the Republican Party receive or deserve any better fate if it compromises upon the issue of freedom for all men?
To those who have charged me with doing a disservice to my party because of my interest in the enactment of a good civil rights bill--and there have been a good many who have made that charge--I can only say that our party found its faith in the Declaration of Independence in which a great Democrat, Jefferson by name, wrote the flaming words:
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.
That has been the living faith of our party. Do we forsake this article of faith, now that equality's time has come or do we stand up for it and insure the survival of our party and its ultimate victory. There is no substitute for a basic and righteous idea."
"There is another reason why we dare not temporize with the issue which is before us. It is essentially moral in character. It must be resolved. It will not go away. Its time has come."
In my opinion, we should consider if the time for full equality in marriage has come.
[Edited 2006-07-19 08:23:28]