Major Owens on Civil Rights
Former Democrat/Working-Families Representative (NY-11, 1983-2007)
Voted NO on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman.
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution stating: "Marriage in the US shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."
Proponents support voting YES because:
The overwhelming majority of the American people support traditional marriage, marriage between a man and a woman. The people have a right to know whether their elected Representatives agree with them about protecting traditional marriage.
Every child deserves both a father and a mother. Studies demonstrate the utmost importance of the presence of a child's biological parents in a child's happiness, health and future achievements. If we chip away at the institution which binds these parents and the family together, the institution of marriage, you begin to chip away at the future success of that child.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This amendment does not belong in our Constitution. It is unworthy of our great Nation. We have amended the Constitution only 27 times. Constitutional amendments have always been used to enhance and expand the rights of citizens, not to restrict them. Now we are being asked to amend the Constitution again, to single out a single group and to say to them for all time, you cannot even attempt to win the right to marry.
From what precisely would this amendment protect marriage? From divorce? From adultery? No. Evidently, the threat to marriage is the fact that there are millions of people in this country who very much believe in marriage, who very much want to marry but who are not permitted to marry. I believe firmly that in the not-too-distant future people will look back on these debates with the incredulity with which we now view the segregationist debates of years past.
Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment;
Bill H J RES 88
; vote number 2006-378
on Jul 18, 2006
Voted NO on making the PATRIOT Act permanent.
To extend and modify authorities needed to combat terrorism, and for other purposes, including:
Reference: USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act;
Bill HR 3199
; vote number 2005-627
on Dec 14, 2005
- Assigning three judges to hear individuals' petitions concerning improper requests by the FBI for library circulation records, library patron lists, book sales records, book customer lists, and other records
- Reporting every year the number of library records orders that are granted, modified, or denied
- Allows Internet service providers to disclose their subscribers information and the contents of their communications to a government entity, if they believe there is “immediate danger of death or serious physical injury”
- Requires that any court that allows a “roving wiretap” under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) must describe in great detail the intended target whose identity is not known
- Allows individuals and businesses to seek legal counsel if they have received a National Security Letter from the FBI requiring them to disclose financial information and records
Voted NO on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Marriage Protection Amendment - Declares that marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Prohibits the Constitution or any State constitution from being construed to require that marital status or its legal incidents be conferred upon any union other than that of a man and a woman.
Reference: Constitutional Amendment sponsored by Rep Musgrave [R, CO-4];
; vote number 2004-484
on Sep 30, 2004
Voted NO on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Pledge Protection Act: Amends the Federal judicial code to deny jurisdiction to any Federal court, and appellate jurisdiction to the Supreme Court, to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of the Pledge of Allegiance or its validity under the Constitution.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep Todd Akin [R, MO-2];
; vote number 2004-467
on Sep 23, 2004
Voted NO on constitutional amendment prohibiting flag desecration.
Desecration of Flag resolution: Vote to pass the joint resolution to put forward a Constitutional amendment to state that Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States. Note: A two-thirds majority vote of those present and voting (284 in this case) is required to pass a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution.
Reference: Resolution sponsored by Thomas, R-CA;
; vote number 2003-234
on Jun 3, 2003
Voted NO on banning gay adoptions in DC.
Vote on an amendment banning adoptions in District of Columbia by gays or other individuals who are not related by blood or marriage.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Largent, R-OK;
Bill HR 2587
; vote number 1999-346
on Jul 29, 1999
Voted NO on ending preferential treatment by race in college admissions.
HR 6, the Higher Education Amendments Act of 1997, would prohibit any post-secondary institution that participates in any program under the Higher Education Act from discriminating or granting any preferential treatment in admission based on race, sex, ethnicity, color or national origin.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Riggs, R-CA.;
Bill HR 6
; vote number 1998-133
on May 6, 1998
Ending racial profiling is part of fight for justice.
Owens adopted the CBC principles:
At the core of the Congressional Black Caucus priorities is its historical fight for civil rights and justice. Among other values, the CBC stresses federal emphasis on the following areas:
Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC8 on Jan 6, 2001
- Equal Justice. The CBC is committed to stopping racial discrimination in all aspects of our lives. We will continue efforts to end immediately the unjust practice of racial profiling, and the racial disparities in sentencing for both drug offenses and death penalty cases.
- Juvenile Justice. We must work with our children before they come in contact with our criminal justice system. The CBC supports conflict resolution and open communication initiatives that serve as preventive measures to violence. It is also the goal of this Caucus to properly address mandatory sentencing guidelines and racial sentencing disparities.
Constitutional Amendment for equal rights by gender.
Owens co-sponsored a Constitutional Amendment:
Title: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women. Summary: States that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HJR40 on Mar 22, 2001
Rated 92% by the ACLU, indicating a pro-civil rights voting record.
Owens scores 92% by the ACLU on civil rights issues
The mission of the ACLU is to preserve protections and guarantees America’s original civic values - the Constitution and the Bill of Rights:
We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.
- Your First Amendment rights-freedom of speech, association and assembly. Freedom of the press, and freedom of religion supported by the strict separation of church and state.
- Your right to equal protection under the law - equal treatment regardless of race, sex, religion or national origin.
- Your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.Your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.
Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: ACLU website 02n-ACLU on Dec 31, 2002
Issue a commemorative postage stamp of Rosa Parks.
Owens co-sponsored issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rosa Parks
EXCERPTS OF RESOLUTION:
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; never came to a vote.
Source: Rosa Parks Stamp (S.2154/H.R.4343) 05-S2154 on Dec 20, 2005
- Whereas in 1955, Rosa Parks's quiet, courageous act changed the United States and its view of African Americans, and redirected the course of history;
- Whereas at that time, in Montgomery, Alabama, as in other cities in the Deep South, the treatment of African Americans on public buses had long been a source of resentment within the African American community;
- Whereas White busdrivers, who were invested with police powers, frequently harassed African Americans;
- Whereas on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks took her seat in the front of the 'Colored' section of a Montgomery bus, but was asked, along with 3 other African Americans, to relinquish her seat to a White passenger;
- Whereas although the 3 other African American passengers relinquished their seats, Rosa Parks refused to do so, and was arrested for that refusal;
Whereas because Rosa Parks's act of disobedience launched the Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted for 381 days and propelled the civil rights movement into the national consciousness, she is widely known as the mother of the civil rights movement; and
- Now, therefore, be it Resolved that it is the sense of Congress that the United States Postal Service should issue a commemorative postage stamp honoring the late Rosa Parks.
Page last updated: Mar 10, 2011