In a Tuesday speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) was moved to tears as he spoke about the need to pass the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
At the conclusion of his speech, Franken recalled his friends, former Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and Sheila Wellstone, who died in a tragic 2002 plane crash.
“Sheila Wellstone isn’t with us today,” Franken said, his voice cracking. “Sheila and Paul and their daughter, Marsha, were tragically taken from us too soon, but Sheila’s example is with us. Her legacy is with us and her words are with us.”
Wiping his tears, the Minnesota senator offered the following 1995 quote from Shiela Wellstone:
We really have to look at the values that guide us and that we have to work towards an ethic that respects every individual, to be physically and emotionally safe. That is ultimately what our goal is: to understand that no one, regardless of age, color, gender, background, any other factor, deserves to be physically or emotionally unsafe. We need to do everything we can to respect that safety, and everything that we can to protect it.
In a just society, we pledge to act together to ensure that each individual is safe from harm. In a just society, we support individuals in systems that are working to protect victims and to prevent the violence. In a just society, we support the professionals who are trying to stop the violence. In a just society, we come together with a common goal of making sure that everyone is safe. In a just society – I think we have to say this over and over and over – we are not going to tolerate the violence.
“The VAWA reauthorization bill is another step to a just society as Sheila described it,” Franken concluded.
The Senate later passed the bill by a 68-31 vote after defeating three proposed amendments. The no votes consisted entirely of male Republicans.
Watch the video below from C-SPAN, broadcast April 26, 2012.
[Ed. note: Updated after publication]