Civil Rights

Civil rights are absolute, fundamental and unequivocal. They extend to everyone -- no matter gender, race, sexuality, gender identity, religion or anything else. The promise that we are all created equal is the bedrock principle of our nation's founding. Our government has no greater responsibility than to keep that promise.

LGBTQ Equality

From the very first day I was sworn into Congress, the fight for LGBTQ rights has been a top priority of my legislative agenda. Although the U.S. realized marriage equality in 2013, our efforts to extend that progress into every classroom, corporation and community is far from over. That’s why I am a proud supporter of the Equality Act which would amend existing civil rights laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. I have also co-sponsored the Student Non-Discrimination Act and legislation to fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

As Chair of the Congressional LGBT Caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force, I have led Congressional efforts to strengthen protections for transgender students and oppose attacks on transgender servicemembers in our military. Back home in Massachusetts, I joined transgender individuals, as well as their families and allies, to urge the passage of enhanced state-level anti-discrimination protections.

Gender Equity

From the #MeToo movement to reproductive rights and economic access, there is no doubt profound gender inequities and injustices persist throughout our society.

Troubling wage inequities and antiquated workplace and family leave policies systemically keep women at an economic disadvantage. I am a proud co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act and of legislation supporting the Equal Rights Amendment, two initiatives that would work to close the wage gap and address 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 workplace policies that find their roots in economic justice.

I believe a woman's access to health care is a sacred right with which no doctor, employer or government should interfere. I have steadfastly opposed legislative efforts to undermine Roe v. Wade and otherwise make it more difficult for women and families to access basic health care, from defending Medicaid to addressing maternal mortality rates and protecting Planned Parenthood.

Finally, the #MeToo movement has forced this country to confront its appalling record on sexual harassment. I stand in solidarity with the brave survivors who have come forward in every state, industry and demographic and believe government must do everything in its power to root out the scourge of sexual assault, violence and harassment. I have supported bipartisan legislation to ensure survivors are not silenced and that perpetrators in Congress are held accountable for their actions.

Racial Justice

Under a Trump Administration, the rights and dignity of communities of color across the country have come under renewed assault. While our President’s divisive rhetoric and discriminatory policies have brought this issue to the forefront of our national debate, the truth is that in the over half a century since the Civil Rights Act was enacted our country has failed to rectify pervasive racial inequities in everything from health care to education to housing and criminal justice. I've joined Congressional efforts to fight back against President Trump's attacks on affordable housing, public education, access to health care and worker protection -- all of which can disproportionately target communities of color.

Of course, disparities in our criminal justice system in particular have most impacted, disadvantaged and dehumanized African-American and Hispanic communities across the country. That is why reforming that system cannot be piecemeal but instead must overhaul mandatory minimums, end punitive fees that penalize poverty, rectify failed drug policies and invest in drug courts that treat substance use disorder as an illness rather than a crime.

As President Trump continues to use the non-existent threat of voter fraud to limit access to the ballot box for minority communities, I am committed to ending this pervasive disenfranchisement. I am a proud co-sponsor of the Voter Empowerment Act, Vote by Mail Act and Automatic Voter Registration Act which would all make sure every American has an equal opportunity to be heard. As our Commonwealth has always been on the frontlines of a strong, accessible democracy, I also testified in support of the automatic voter registration legislation enacted in 2018.

Religious Liberty

Finally, recent years have brought an influx of threats to civil rights on the basis of religious freedom. While religious liberty is a sacred cornerstone of American values, those who use it to infringe on the rights of others are convoluting its purpose. I introduced the Do No Harm Act, a bill that would amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to ensure that the intent of our Constitution is protected and religious freedom cannot be used to justify denying health care coverage for employees, claiming exemptions to civil rights law, and complicating justice in child labor and abuse cases. This legislation would protect our country’s sacred balance between religious freedom and equal protection and proudly boasts the support of nearly 50 major civil rights groups across the country.

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