Arizona State Representative Juan Mendez speaks before the state House on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
2. The text of Mendez’s speech reads below:
Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads. I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people of our state.
This is a room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration. But there is also a room where, as my secular humanist tradition stresses, by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences. We share the same spectrum of potential for care, for compassion, for fear, for joy, for love.
Carl Sagan once wrote, ‘For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.’
There is in the political process much to bear. In this room, let us cherish and celebrate our shared humanists, our shared capacity for reason and compassion, our shared love for the people of our state, for our Constitution and our democracy. And let us root our policy making process in these values that are relevant to all Arizonans regardless of religious beliefs or non belief. In gratitude and in love, in reason and compassion, let us work together for a better Arizona.
After the session, Mendez spoke with Phoenix New Times and said, “I hope today marks the beginning of a new era in which Arizona’s non believers can feel as welcome and valued here as believers.”