Civil Rights

Congressman Kennedy believes government has no greater responsibility than to keep the fundamental promise that every American – and human being – is created equal.

LGBTQIA+ Equality

As Chair of the Congressional LGBT Caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force, Kennedy is a leader in Washington for LGBTQIA+ rights. He is a proud supporter of the Equality Act and introduced legislation to ban the so-called ‘Gay and Trans Panic’ defense, as well as a resolution recognizing a national Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Kennedy is also the author of the Do No Harm Act, which would amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to ensure that religious freedom cannot be used to justify denying civil rights.  This landmark legislation is supported by over 50 leading civil rights and social justice groups across the country.

He has spearheaded efforts in Washington to stop the ban on transgender troops, defend non-discrimination protections for transgender students and ensure access to necessary health care for every transgender American. He was on the frontlines of Massachusetts’ efforts to expand transgender non-discrimination protections to public spaces.

Gender Equity

From the #MeToo movement to reproductive rights and economic access, Kennedy has fought against persistent gender inequities and injustices.

He supports the Paycheck Fairness Act and Equal Rights Amendment, two proposals to help address the wage gap and workplace discrimination. He is an advocate for universal childcare and guaranteed paid family leave, to remedy the increasingly untenable economic balance that young families and disproportionately women, are forced to strike.

Kennedy is a steadfast advocate for reproductive justice and women’s access to health care. He believes the right to choose is a fundamental liberty and opposes any effort to undermine Roe v. Wade. He supports repealing the Hyde Amendment, which limits federal funding for abortion access, as well as making birth control available over the counter. He has worked with his colleagues to protect Planned Parenthood, expand mental health care for pregnant women and address maternal mortality rates, particularly for women of color.

Kennedy is proud to be an ally of the #MeToo movement and believes government must do everything in its power to root out the scourge of sexual assault, violence and harassment. He authored legislation, now signed into law, to improve access to legal services for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse and supported efforts to address sexual harassment in Congress and on Capitol Hill.

Racial Justice

From police brutality and health care inequities to addressing the racial wealth gap and ending disparities in maternal mortality rates, Congressman Kennedy has supported expansive efforts to dismantle structural, systemic racism and white supremacy. 

As the country marched for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and thousands of other Black and Brown people murdered because of the color of their skin, Kennedy stood with his colleagues to introduce the Justice in Policing Act and demand action at the federal, state and local levels. In the immediate aftermath, he introduced the Bend Toward Justice Act to tear down barriers to justice for anyone whose civil rights are violated by law enforcement. Because he believes that policing in this country must be fundamentally changed, he called for bans on chokeholds and Qualified Immunity, as well as the creation of independent civilian boards to hold officers accountable for abuse. 

From his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Kennedy has fought to confront stubborn racial inequities in the health care system that leave Black women nearly 400% more likely to die during child birth than white women, and lead to dramatically lower life expectancies for Black Americans. Along with Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, he introduced the Moms MATTER Act to increase access to maternal mental and behavioral health, particularly minority women. He is also a proud cosponsor of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s Medicare for All legislation that would ensure patients of color are no longer denied health care at higher rates than white patients.

Beyond battling inequities present in our health care system, he has been on the frontlines of the fight for environmental justice in Congress. Along with Congressman Donald McEachin and Chairman Raul Grijalva, he introduced the Environmental Justice For All Act to dismantle systemic racism woven throughout energy and environmental policies that leaves communities of color with higher rates of air pollution and environmental harms.

Kennedy supports broad criminal justice reform, including an overhaul of mandatory minimums, cash bail and punitive court fees that penalize poverty, as well as rectifying failed drug policies and expunging marijuana convictions. As a former civil legal aid volunteer, he has proposed the most progressive expansion of civil justice in the United States Congress and introduced legislation to root out systemic racism in the civil court system.

With the rights and dignity of communities of color under continued assault by the Trump Administration, he has joined Congressional efforts to block attacks on affordable housing, fair wages, public education and access to health care, all of which can disproportionately target Black and Brown families. He is the proud co-sponsor of the Voter Empowerment Act, Vote by Mail Act and Automatic Voter Registration Act, which would counteract the ongoing campaign of voter suppression targeted at minority communities across the country. He has co-sponsored legislation to support minority-owned businesses, undo the legacy of redlining in housing, and study reparations for African-American families. 

Read more from Joe:

VICE: The U.S. is about to decide if LGBTQ people truly count as citizens

ADVOCATE: Why I fight for trans youth

STAT: It’s time to legalize marijuana at the federal level

HERALD NEWS: Our unfinished march towards equality for LGBT Americans

HUFFINGTON POST: No exceptions to equal protection