Transcript: Sen. Chris Coons’s floor remarks in support of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Edited by Jenny Jiang

Transcript of statements by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) in support of ratifying the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the Senate floor on Dec. 4, 2012:

Mr. President, I also thank Senator Kerry for his chairmanship on the Foreign Relations Committee and his leadership on this very important issue. I thank Senator Lugar as well. Both Senators, in combination, led strongly on this important issue.
Let me briefly add 2 minutes to the chorus on this floor today. First, as to the Senators who have spoken pointedly about their fears and their concerns about home schooling. I listened to their arguments while I was the Presiding Officer. Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma spoke passionately about his youngest daughter who homeschools her kids and about their fears that somehow this convention would hand the power to an unelected group of bureaucrats to direct the schooling of children in Oklahoma.
I heard Senator Lee of Utah add a question to that negative chorus. He said, I have justifiable doubts that a U.N. committee in Geneva can judge the best interests of children in Utah.

I agree. This convention does nothing to empower an international convention of bureaucrats to direct the schooling of children in Delaware, West Virginia, Indiana, or in Massachusetts.
I am, frankly, upset that they have succeeded in scaring the parents who homeschool their children all over this country. My own office has gotten dozens of calls and letters demanding that I vote against this convention. As a matter of international law and as a matter of U.S. law, this convention does nothing to change the home schooling of children in America; rather, it does something positive.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, which was led so brilliantly in its ratification by Senator Tom Harkin and Senator Robert Dole, who was a central architect in the passage in this Chamber, stands as a great accomplishment in this country in our steady progress toward freedom and inclusion. This convention, ratified by this Senate, would allow our voice to be heard in an international forum all over the world. A billion citizens of this world live with disabilities every day, and our voice deserves to be heard.
When we open the Senate every day, we say the Pledge of Allegiance. At the end of it, we hold up to the world our standards: Liberty and justice for all. In this country, the Americans with Disabilities Act says we have accomplished real progress toward liberty for the disabled and justice for all. By ratifying this convention, our voice would be heard on these vital issues all over the world. It is a voice that deserves to be heard. I urge my colleagues to ratify the convention.



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