Human and Civil Rights
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was one of the most significant legislative achievements of the Civil Rights movement. All Americans must have equal access to the polls and an opportunity to have their voices heard.
As a member of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, I have worked in Congress to help restore protections undermined by the 2013 Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act. I am a cosponsor of the Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect all Americans’ right to vote, and of the Voting Rights Amendment Act, which would require, among other things, jurisdictions with a recent record of repeated Voting Rights Act violations to pre-clear election law changes. These and other important voting rights protections are included in H.R. 1, which I am cosponsoring in the 116th Congress.
H.R. 1, the For The People Act, is House Democrats’ transformative legislation to restore transparency, ethics, and unity to government, so that we can honor the public’s trust and put the power back in the hands of the people:
In March 2015 and again in 2019, I traveled with congressional colleagues to Selma, Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama for a civil rights pilgrimage focused on the historical struggle to win voting rights. These inspiring experiences only strengthened my commitment to securing the right to vote for all Americans.
We are at a crossroads in our country. This can be a moment that brings moral clarity and focus on confronting our country’s original sin – racism – and ending the decades of systemic police abuse.
In February 2021, I joined over 100 of my colleagues in reintroducing the historic Justice in Policing Act, a comprehensive policing reform bill designed to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities. I voted in support of this bill in March 2021, and will continue supporting reforms to build safer communities and support just policing.
I am a lifelong advocate of women’s rights, equality, and health, dating back to my work as a civil rights attorney.
Fundamental to gender equity is the principle that equal work deserves equal pay, which is why I am a strong supporter of the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill strengthens and closes loopholes in the nearly 50-year-old Equal Pay Act, providing effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal wages for doing equal work.
One of the very first bills I cosponsored as a congressman was the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which focuses the response of law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels to domestic violence, and extends vital protections to the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, and Native Americans. The Violence Against Women Act, first passed in 1994, has been necessary and effective in protecting women and saving lives, and I will continue pushing to reauthorize and improve this legislation.
I support the important protections of the Affordable Care Act that ensure that women’s preventative and reproductive services must be covered, and that women are not asked to pay more for their health insurance simply because they’re women.
I also support a the right to make one’s own reproductive choices and deeply oppose the extreme, out of touch, right-wing Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion – tearing apart decades of legal precedent. This ruling doesn’t change the fact that abortions are health care, and countless people will still need to access it. In California, our rights are still protected – and we will continue to protect and expand access to abortion, so no one is denied the care they need. I will keep fighting in Washington to protect abortion providers, restore the right to reproductive health care, and safeguard the many other rights won based on Roe v. Wade that are now in danger under this abhorrent Supreme Court.
The House has already taken action: in July 2022, I proudly voted for two bills that protect reproductive freedom, as well as defend the legal rights of both patients and doctors. These bills include the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act, which protects the right to travel across state lines to receive reproductive health care, as well as the Women’s Health Protection Act, which codifies the right to abortion into federal law.
Our Constitution guarantees equality for all Americans, not just some Americans; we must continue to work toward that goal. I am a staunch advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and a member of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. I am also a cosponsor of the Equality Act, which would add sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity to the existing federal protections on race, color, religion, and national origin.
In the 117th Congress, I helped pass the Respect For Marriage Act to protect marriage equality for the millions of LGBTQ+ people and those in interracial marriages – which is now federal law. Everyone deserves to have certainty that their marriages will continue to be recognized under the law, no matter where they live or travel in the U.S.
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