Civil Rights

America’s families come in many forms, and all deserve equal protection under oohe law. Unfortunately, our civil rights have been under relentless attack for the past thirty years.  I will fight to restore and protect those rights – for all families and all Americans – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or identification, party, or religion.

One such right is the right to vote.  One voting restriction after another benefits the politically powerful over those who cannot afford to donate, who are older, belong to a racial minority, or hold different religious views.  We must do the necessary work to restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act, and improve access and ease of voting.  Colorado stands above the other states in the strength of our voting laws and the accessibility of our ballots.  We should model the laws of the nation based on what we have  here in Colorado.

Voting rights are also under attack from a commission President Trump created that is trying to restrict voting by repeating false reports of massive illegal voting, even though responsible Republican and Democratic election officials alike have disproven those claims – including Colorado’s own Republican Secretary of State. I would support strong Congressional oversight over any efforts by this or any other commission to restrict voting – hearings, subpoenas demanding information on exactly what the commission is doing and why, and a denial of funding for any commission efforts to restrict voting. I also would support a real commission to study real problems with voting in America: improving technology and staffing to make voting speedy and reliable, rather than backlogged; and stopping state obstruction of voting based on false claims of illegal voting.

Until our communities of color have equal access to lending, they are restricted economically from being full participants in our society.  Access to capital to support or found small businesses is key to promoting success for those trying to move up the ladder.  Too often, however, access to capital is restricted to persons of color, where equal white candidates will receive funds.  Minority-owned banks used to provide vehicles for such access, but many were swallowed up or dissolved during the S&L crisis in the first Bush Administration.  We need to restore access to capital to persons of color so communities can build from within.

Despite recent progress in protecting the dignity and rights of LGBT Americans, there still is no clear federal law banning discrimination and harassment against LGBT Americans. I support The Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act that already bans employment, consumer, housing, and other discrimination based on race, sex, and religion. These rights are about basic fairness, but can be about survival too: convenience stores, gas stations, and motels usually aren’t for emergencies, but they could be – in a blizzard, in a hot summer drive through a rural area with few service businesses, for someone with a sudden emergency need for food or water due to a medical condition, or for a battered spouse suddenly needing a tank of gas to drive somewhere safe, a place to spend the night, and a few groceries during a stressful unplanned trip. Using the existing Civil Rights Act makes sense because it has been on the books for over a half-century, so we know it works without interfering unfairly with businesses.

While the Supreme Court recognized that marriage equality cannot be denied based on race in 1967 and based on sexual orientation in 2013, we have seen too many reports of states or localities still denying full LGBT equality in adoption, health care decision-making, and other important family rights. As the Supreme Court noted, “many same-sex couples provide loving and nurturing homes to their children, whether biological or adopted. And hundreds of thousands of children are presently being raised by such couples.” Protecting equal marriage rights, the Court ruled, “affords the permanency and stability important to children’s best interests”; denying such rights makes “children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser … [and] a more difficult and uncertain family life.” I support federal legislation to stop discrimination as to marriage, parental, or family health care rights because once the Supreme Court rules that the Constitution protects an equality right, it’s Congress’s job to write federal laws to prevent violations.

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