Hoyer Giving Speech on the Defense Authorization Act on House Floor

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... severely worn down by two wars. maybe because there's an agreement on that, we haven't talked about it very much. finally the bill strengthens our military by providing for a process, to repeal a discriminatory provision. now, i want my friends to listen to this. and they're not going to be happy with me. i am 70 years of age. i was in college in the late 1950's and early 1960's. now, bill clinton was in college in the late 1960's. his generation of americans were motivated by the vietnam war. one way or the other. now, frankly, i was a member of the state senatand supported that effort in the state senate. but in the late 1950's and early 1960's, the motivating force for young people in this country was civil rights. it was about living out the promise of american equaly. it was about a commitment of this country, which was the bedrock of this country, that all men were created equal, and endowed not by us, but by their creator with certain unalienable rights. i want to tell my friends, i have some rhetoric here that was used in 1940, 1941, 1945, 1946, when there were some americans you didn't have to ask. they didn't have to tell. because you knew they were african-americans. there was no hiding that. and we segregated them. and i heard strom thurman stand the floor of the senate -- he was a democrat -- speaking about discriminating against people because of the color of their skin. separate by equal. i've heard the same rhetoric. let me read some of it. the army is the wrong place for social experiments. keep african-americans in their place. i was angered in the 1950's and 1960's when i saw that kind of rhetoric, because i thought that was not the america that i was so proud of. hear that language that was used back in 1948. and read the transcripts today. in 1965, i was -- excuse me, in 1990, the sponsor of the americans with disabilities act. there was an amendment offered that said people with aids could not be waiters and waitresses. why? because people wouldn't co into restaurants if they knew that somebody with aids was serving them. of course, all the scientists and medical personnel said there was no way to transmit aids by handling plates or food. and i pulled out some rhetoric. interesting enough,ing from 19 -- from 1965, when the public considerations law was considered on this floor, and guess what they said. they said if we have african-american waiters and waitresses, people won't come into our restaurants. that's why we don't have african-american waiters and african-american restaurants. that was not the america for which i stand. strom thurman, however, said, and other democrats -- now, he didn't stay a democrat, as all of you know, throughout his career. said no, wel keep people separate. and because you're driving down route 1 fr new york to florida and you stop and you're a little girl, ask when howard johnson comes by, can i have an ice cream cone, you say to your littlehild, i'm sorry, you can't go in there. you're the wrong color. can't stay at that hotel. now in their era, they thought they were being good americans, i presume. and there were filibusters after filibusters to stop treating people as -- to start treating people as people, with their god-given inalienable rights. ladies and gentlemen, look to your hearts and your conscience. look at the debates of 1948. is there one of us --s there one of us that would say general powell as chairman of the joint ...