Civil Rights

From equal pay for equal work to the right to have a voice in our democracy and marry whom we love, I believe this country was built on the promise of fundamental fairness.  All Americans deserve to be treated fairly by their colleagues, community, and government. The protections and liberties that define who we are as a nation cannot be restricted by gender, sexual orientation, religion, or any of the attributes that define who we are as individuals.  
While we have made enormous strides in gender equality in recent years, our work is far from complete.  I am a proud co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act and of legislation supporting the Equal Rights Amendment, two initiatives which would go a long way in closing the wage gap and ending workplace discrimination.  Women account for nearly half of American workers, and it’s time for public policy to catch up to the economic reality of a diverse and dynamic American workforce.  While many nations have been providing paid parental leave to workers for decades, the United States does not even guarantee unpaid leave to new parents. As working families raise children, care for aging parents, and deal with unexpected illness or injury, paid family and medical leave would ensure that a medical emergency doesn’t also become an economic crisis.  For that reason, I am a strong supporter of the FAMILY Act and will continue to fight for progressive workplace policies that find their roots in economic justice.  
In 2013, I joined over 200 of my Congressional colleagues in sending an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, calling on the Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act in Windsor v. United States.  On June 26, 2013, our values shone brightly as the Supreme Court ruled that restricting the federal interpretation of marriage to include only heterosexual couples is unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.  That day was a victory for American families and American values, but our work isn’t done until full equality for LGBT Americans is a legal and lived reality in every classroom, corporation, and community.  I have co-sponsored the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, as well as legislation to fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  I will continue to stand behind legislation that keeps us faithful to our fundamental principles of equality and fairness.    
Finally, I believe that efforts to limit or suppress an American citizen’s right to participate in our democratic process undermine the integrity of that process. I am a proud co-sponsor of the Voter Empowerment Act, and will continue fighting for the protections that make sure every American has an equal opportunity to be heard and counted at the ballot box.  
Many of the issues our country faces are complex, many of the questions we ask don’t have one simple answer, and many of our debates have room for a wide range of opinions.  But fundamental equality is not one of these.  There is no questioning the idea that we are all created equal, and there are no exceptions to the principle that we all deserve to be treated fairly.  This simple idea was the bedrock principle of our nation’s founding, and it remains at the heart of our laws and values today.