Rep. Souder's Impassioned Speech On His "Moral Views"

May 19, 2010 10:42 am ET — Melinda Warner

On November 18, 2009, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee met to debate and vote on legislation to "provide certain benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees" -- meaning that the gay and lesbian partners of federal employees could access the same benefits granted to the heterosexual partners of federal employees.

During the committee mark-up,  Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) made an impassioned speech about the protection of traditional marriage and the morality of his own views. (It is unclear what his position was at the time regarding extra-marital affairs with abstinence-only education promoters.)

Rep. Souder: ...uh and I think many Americans, if not the overwhelming percentage agree with that.  But I earlier tried to get recognition from a gentleman from uh Rhode Island, uh, because uh, I, I, I take deep offense and-and personal offense at some of the, the comments regarding the whole uh, gay rights issue.  

We didn't raise this bill.  We didn't try to use this as a wedge issue.  It has been thrust upon us.  I do not like [clears throat] to talk about this subject.  It is a very deep and difficult subject.  I personally have [clears throat] deeply held [clears throat] excuse me, moral views that [clears throat] are obviously shared by the Catholic Bishops, uh, who presumably who were also in the gentleman's denunciation, um, that, um - [clears throat] and that I don't believe that from my perspective that this is worse than people who, uh, commit other things that I dis- disagree with.  And that's why I'm, I'm not particularly comfortable, but I do believe that as a moral country, uh, as a country that was founded in these values we have always paid tribute to these values of traditional marriage and that the thrust of this bill, which a number of these amendments have tried to address, have highlighted what is clearly a deep cultural divide in this country.  And that when it's thrust at us we're going to defend it.  It doesn't mean we're trying to get some kind of partisan advantage.  I'm tellin' you, I'd rather not have this debate.  Um, but-but, if the debate is here then I'm gonna engage in the debate because I'm not gonna be intimidated because it happens to be my moral views that suddenly my moral views are irrelevant that I can't talk about my views, I can't talk about my beliefs which happen to be, by the way, as has been pointed out, backed up by every referendum held in the United States, the views of the majority of the American people. 

So we have a right to express those.  I believe that those who harass, who mock, who persecute, who discriminate against, in any kind of personal level those who don't have the same sexual orientation are wrong.  And that Christians, such as myself, have an obligation to say that that is wrong behavior, but it does not mean that whether it's back door - like this bill does - or front door - like the Defense of Marriage Act repeal would do - have a right to, to do that, and silence us where we can't raise it without being accused of some kind of bigot.  We have a difference of opinion.  And when we say "my friend" at different times, we really mean our friends.  We work together on alcohol and mental health issues. It - we can have disagreements on something like this without me being bigoted.  And that's why...

Rep. Kennedy: Will the gentleman yield?

Souder:  I'll yield.

Kennedy: OK, I'm just making a point that your Christianity, that the morals and the values that you espouse right now, where they're coming from, the hypocrisy is so deep you can cut it with a knife.

Ironic, no?

Of course, his defense of marriage was not surprising.  Souder was a member of the "Class of '94" -- that group of Republicans who took over 56 Democratic seats in Congress running on the conservative platform known as "Contract with America." 

At this point, it seems Rep. Kennedy was either fully informed of Souder's extra-curricular activities or was an incredible judge of character.