Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vitter Senate Speech on Marriage

I thought that this speech made by Sen. David Vitter, and apparently delivered on the floor of the Senate on June 6, 2006, deserves to be transcribed in full. A quick internet search didn't turn up the written transcript of this speech, and so I thought it would just be easier for me to transcribe it myself. It is rich with irony, particularly the pride that Vitter takes in being one of the folks approached to promote the Federal Marriage Amendment during his stint while a member of the House, possibly also during the time when he was actively engaged in behavior that made a mockery of his own marriage.

Here's the transcript:

Thank you, Mr. President. I stand in strong support of this proposed Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to uphold and affirm traditional marriage. Several years ago, when folks focused on the health of marriage and the upbringing of children, from around the country, gathered to begin to attack this threat and this problem, they came to the Congress with the idea of proposing a Constitutional Amendment. And they went to certain members of both the House and the Senate, Republicans and Democrats (I was in the House at the time), and I was honored that I was one of the four House Republicans, (there were eight House members in all, four Republicans and four Democrats), who these leaders approached to be original co-authors of this sort of Constitutional Amendment. I immediately agreed, and I've been very, very involved in the debate and the fight ever since then. And I'm very happy to bring this work to the Senate with so many other leaders, like Senator Allard who's been leading the effort here for some time.

It's a very important effort, Mr. President, because marriage, it's often said, but it's very, very true, and it is worth repeating: marriage is truly the most fundamental social institution in human history. Now, think about that statement and the significance of it: the single-most fundamental social institution in human history. And certainly, we should not rush, as we are at the present time through activist courts, to radically redefine it after thousands and thousands of years living under the traditional definition.

Now, Mr. President, often here in the Senate we get very wrapped up in our debate and our laws and our proposals and our government programs, and we think so much is changed by that, so much hinges on that. And yet, what is so much more important and more fundamental are those enduring, hopefully enduring, social institutions like marriage, community, church, faith communities. We need to realize just how central those sorts of institutions are, and how important they are in terms of influencing behavior in our society, good behavior and bad behavior.

When we look at so many of the social ills we try to address here in Congress with government programs and proposals, serious social problems, like drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, and the like, perhaps the single biggest predictor of good results versus bad results is whether kids come from a stable, loving, nurturing two-parent family - a mother and a father. That doesn't mean that you can't have success raising a child in other environments, in a struggling one-parent household, [it] just means that the odds are so much more stacked against you when you move to that other sort of environment. And so, I think it's very appropriate, and well-overdue, that we focus here in the Senate on nurturing, upholding, preserving, protecting such a fundamental social institution as traditional marriage.

A lot of folks here in Washington don't get that, don't fully understand it. But I can tell you real people in the real world, certainly including in Louisiana, do. They get it. And that's why two years ago, in 2004, we [passed?] a state constitutional marriage amendment in Louisiana to uphold traditional marriage; and we passed it with 78% of the vote. Folks in Louisiana want those values upheld, they don't want them redefined radically by activist courts, particularly people in courts in other states like Massachussetts. And make no mistake, that is what is happening; and that trend would have an impact not just in isolated states like Massachussetts, but throughout the country, as marriage is redefined by liberal activist judges and others. And so the people in Louisiana, and a solid, solid majority of people around the country, want us to address this issue nationally through a Constitutional Amendment once and for all. That's why I strongly support this effort.

I want to thank the Senator from Colorado, and others, again, for leading this fight in the Senate. I was proud to help lead it in the U.S. House when I was there. I am proud to join other allies here on the floor of the Senate.

And again, rather than focus on these new government programs, new little ideas that we run to the floor of the Senate with every day, let's take time to remember and focus on truly significant, enduring social institutions, which are the greatest predictors, the greatest factors, in terms of encouraging good behavior and success, discouraging bad behavior and failure. This is the way we can have the most impact on those problems we debate endlessly, like drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, and the like.

I urge all of my colleagues, Mr. President, to join us in this effort. And I predict, that while we may not reach the two-thirds vote that we ultimately need, with this vote this week, that we will make important progress. We will pick up votes since the last time the Congress voted on this issue in 2004. And I'm one small example of that progress because my election in 2004 meant that this vote went from a "No" vote of my predecessor, John Breaux, to a proud "Yes" vote of the Junior Senator from Louisiana now. I look forward to casting that vote. I urge my colleagues to rally around enduring, positive social institutions that are so essential for the health of families, kids being brought up, and, indeed, our entire society. With that, Mr. President, I yield back my time.
Watch the clip. Look at Vitter's body language. Listen to the emphasis he places on certain words and phrases when he speaks. And then make of it what you will in light of recent events.

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