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Big Brother to the Core
Senator Ron Wyden, (D) Oregon
from the Congressional Record, September 10, 1996

At the heart of this debate is a judgment each Senator must make about what the Federal Government ought to stick its nose into.

This has been a Congress dedicated to the proposition of reducing the role of the Federal Government in the lives of our citizens. This Congress has sought to turn away the Federal desire to intrude and leave important decisions to private individuals and, if necessary, local and State government.

Marriage has historically been a private matter between two people. It has long been a matter that has been reserved for the States. Now the Congress that has sought to contract Federal power hungers for Federal regulation of the institution of marriage. This Federal expansionism makes no sense to me.

When I talk with gay and lesbian Oregonians, they invariably ask me about the concerns held by the majority of Americans. They ask about jobs and wages and health care and crime. Not once has a gay or lesbian Oregonian come to me and asked that the Federal Government endorse their lifestyle. They simply ask to be left alone. In this regard, they are very similar to what I hear from ranchers and small business owners and fishermen and scores of other of our citizens.

One of the fundamental principles on which our Nation was built is the freedom to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Constitution doesnít give Congress or the States the power to specifically exclude an individual or group of individuals from the enjoyment of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. But this legislation would.

Is the legislation constitutional? Where in the Constitution does it say equal rights for all ó except those that the majority disagrees with? This bill is not only of dubious constitutionality, it seems to me to be a repudiation of traditional conservatism. It is conservative to keep private conduct private. It is certainly conservative to promote monogamy. It is conservative to promote personal responsibility and commitment.

This bill isnít conservative; it is Big Brother to the core. My judgment is that this is a subject the Federal Government ought not stick its nose into.

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