He was a lead sponsor of the bill to get reparations for the Japanese American families interned during the war, and there were very few senators who could look at this quiet man with the
Japanese surname, valorous military record, and empty right sleeve and vote no.
Source: The Greatest Generation, by Tom Brokaw, p.355
, Nov 30, 1998
Faced anti-Japanese discrimination after WWII
[After he spent 20 months in hospitals recovering from war wounds fighting with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe], on a layover in Oakland, California , on his way back to Hawaii, he decided he wanted to get, as he puts it "all
gussied up so when I got home Mama and Papa would see me in all my glory. I went into an Oakland barbershop--four empty chairs--and a barber comes up to me and wants to know if I'm Japanese.
Keep in mind I'm in uniform with my medals and ribbons and a hook for an arm. I said, 'Well my father was born in Japan.' The barber replied, 'We don't cut Jap hair.'
I was tempted to slash him with my hook," [from the arm he had lost in battle], "but then I thought about all the work the 442nd had done and I just said, 'I feel sorry for you,' and walked out. I went home without a haircut."
Voted NO on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration.
The Senate voted on a resolution which would recommend a Constitutional Amendment banning flag desecration (not a vote on the Amendment itself). The resolution states:
the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity...
the Bill of Rights should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom...
abuse of the flag causes more than pain and distress... and may amount to fighting words...
destruction of the flag of the US can be intended to incite a violent response rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment to the Constitution.
Proponents of the Resolution say:
Fifty State legislatures have called on us to pass this amendment. This amendment simply says that "Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."
In other words, in passing this amendment, we would give to
Congress the power that the Supreme Court took away in 1989.
48 States had anti-desecration measures on the books before 1989. It was then that five unelected judges told those 48 sovereign entities that they were wrong.
Opponents of the Resolution say:
I am deeply offended when people burn or otherwise abuse this precious national symbol.
I also believe that the values and beliefs that the American flag represents are more important than the cloth from which this symbol was created.
Prominent among these beliefs are the right to voice views that are unpopular, and the right to protest.
I oppose this amendment not because I condone desecration of our flag, but because I celebrate the values our flag represents. Flag burning is despicable. However, the issue is whether we should amend our great charter document, the Constitution, to proscribe it.
Is this a problem needing such strong medicine? Are we facing an epidemic of flag burnings?
Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.
Voting YES implies support for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. This cloture motion to end debate requires a 3/5th majority. A constitutional amendment requires a 2/3rd majority. The proposed amendment is:
Marriage in the United States 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 of the motion say:
If Members of the Senate vote as their States have voted on this amendment, the vote today will be 90 to 10 in favor of a constitutional amendment.
Marriage is a foundational institution. It is under attack by the courts. It needs to be defended by defining it as the union of a man and a woman as 45 of our 50 States have done.
The amendment is about how we are going to raise the next generation.
It is not an issue that the courts should resolve. Those of us who support this amendment are doing so in an effort to let the people decide.
Opponents of the motion say:
This proposal pits Americans against one another. It appeals to people's worst instincts and prejudices.
Supporters rail against activist judges. But if this vaguely worded amendment ever passes, it will result in substantial litigation. What are the legal incidents of marriage? Is a civil union a marriage?
Married heterosexual couples are wondering, how, exactly, the prospect of gay marriages threatens the health of their marriages.
This amendment would make a minority of Americans permanent second-class citizens of this country. It would prevent States, many of which are grappling with the definition of marriage, from deciding that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry. And it would write discrimination into a document that has served as a historic guarantee of individual freedom.
Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.
Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 625; Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001. The bill would expand the definition of hate crimes to incorporate acts committed because of a victim's sex, sexual orientation or disability and permit the federal government to help states prosecute hate crimes even if no federally protected action was implicated. If the cloture motion is agreed to, debate will be limited and a vote will occur. If the cloture motion is rejected debate could continue indefinitely and instead the bill is usually set aside. Hence a Yes vote supports the expansion of the definition of hate crimes, and a No vote keeps the existing definition. Three-fifths of the Senate, or 60 members, is required to invoke cloture.
Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping.
Motion to table (kill) the amendment that would provide that in order to conduct roving surveillance, the person implementing the order must ascertain that the target of the surveillance is present in the house or is using the phone that has been tapped.
Voted YES on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women.
Vote to table, or kill, an amendment to repeal the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise [DBE] Program, which requires no less than 10% of highway construction projects funded by the federal government to be contracted to 'disadvantaged business enterprises'
Voted NO on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business.
This legislation would have abolished a program that helps businesses owned by women or minorities compete for federally funded transportation.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)48; N)52
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture;
; vote number 1997-275
on Oct 23, 1997
Voted NO on prohibiting same-sex marriage.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): Vote to prohibit marriage between members of the same sex in federal law, and provide that no state is required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Define 'marriage' as 'between one man and one woman.'
Rated 50% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record.
Inouye scores 50% 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:
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.
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.
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.
Rated 78% by the HRC, indicating a pro-gay-rights stance.
Inouye scores 78% by the HRC on gay rights
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 HRC scores as follows:
0% - 20%: opposes gay rights (approx. 207 members)
20% - 70%: mixed record on gay rights (approx. 84 members)
70%-100%: supports gay rights (approx. 177 members)
About the HRC (from their website, www.hrc.org):
The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where GLBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
Ever since its founding in 1980, HRC has led the way in promoting fairness for GLBT Americans. HRC is a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.
About the NAACP (from their website, www.naacp.org):
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has worked over the years to support and promote our country's civil rights agenda. Since its founding in 1909, the NAACP has worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination while also ensuring the political, social, and economic equality of all people. The Association will continue this mission through its policy initiatives and advocacy programs at the local, state, and national levels.
From the ballot box to the classroom, the dedicated workers, organizers, and leaders who forged this great organization and maintain its status as a champion of social justice, fought long and hard to ensure that the voices of African Americans would be heard. For nearly one hundred years, it has been the talent and tenacity of NAACP members that has saved lives and changed many negative aspects of American society.
ENDA: prohibit employment discrimination for gays.
Inouye signed H.R.3017&S.1584
Prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by covered entities (employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or joint labor-management committees). Prohibits preferential treatment or quotas. Allows only disparate treatment claims. Prohibits related retaliation.
Makes this Act inapplicable to:
religious organizations; and
the relationship between the United States and members of the Armed Forces.
Source: Employment Non-Discrimination Act 09-HR3017 on Jun 24, 2009
Prohibit sexual-identity discrimination at schools.
Inouye signed Student Non-Discrimination Act
Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2011:
Prohibits public school students from being excluded from participating in, or subject to discrimination under, any federally-assisted educational program on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or that of their associates.
Considers harassment to be a form of discrimination.
Prohibits retaliation against anyone for opposing conduct they reasonably believe to be unlawful under this Act.
Authorizes federal departments and agencies to enforce these prohibitions by cutting off the educational assistance of recipients found to be violating them.
Allows an aggrieved individual to assert a violation of this Act in a judicial proceeding and recover reasonable attorney's fees should they prevail.
Deems a state's receipt of federal educational assistance for a program to constitute a waiver of sovereign immunity for conduct prohibited under this Act regarding such program.
Sponsored bill investigating Japanese deportation in WWII.
Inouye sponsored Relocation of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act
A bill to establish a fact-finding Commission to extend the study of a prior Commission to investigate and determine circumstances surrounding the relocation, internment, and deportation to Axis countries of Latin Americans of Japanese descent during WWII.
Establishes the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Latin Americans of Japanese descent.
Directs the Commission to extend the study of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians to investigate U.S. relocation, internment, and (in some cases) deportation to Axis countries of Latin Americans of Japanese descent held in U.S. custody from December 1941 through February 1948; and recommend appropriate remedies.
Based on a preliminary study published in December 1982 by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, Congress finds the following:
During World War II, the United States expanded its internment program and national security investigations
to conduct the program and investigations in Latin America
Approximately 2,300 men, women, and children of Japanese descent from 13 Latin American countries were held in the custody of the Department of State in internment camps operated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1941 through 1948.
Those men, women, and children either were arrested without a warrant, hearing, or indictment by local police, and sent to the United States for internment; or in some cases involving women and children, voluntarily entered internment camps to remain with their arrested husbands, fathers, and other male relatives.
Passports held by individuals who were Latin Americans of Japanese descent were routinely confiscated before the individuals arrived in the United States.
Despite their involuntary arrival, Latin American internees of Japanese descent were considered to be and treated as illegal entrants by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.