Equal protection and freedom for all are matters of basic civil and human rights, and it’s wrong for politicians to attack these rights. My wife and I have a long history of supporting Planned Parenthood, and in Congress I have always stood up to Republicans when they have voted to defund Planned Parenthood. And from my time serving on the board of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, to working for full equality in Congress, I have always fought for the LGBT community. We owe it to America to stand up and speak out for what’s right.
I arrived in Congress at a time when the Republican leadership was setting a new standard for policies attacking women. Time and again, those on the far right have forced votes in an effort to take away the right for women to make their own health care decisions, or even simply to have access to safe health care. I’ve stood up to Republicans when they have voted to defund Planned Parenthood and attempted to permit employers to deny coverage for basic women’s health care, like birth control. That’s why I have a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood Action Fund and have had their endorsement in all my races.
Unbelievably, some in Congress still want to fight battles over reproductive choice and access to contraception. Those wars were fought and won decades ago. I will always defend a woman’s right to have the health care she wants, and I believe that only a woman, her family, and her doctor should be able to decide what is best for her health. With reproductive freedom being challenged at the Supreme Court, I cosponsored and helped pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify Roe v Wade and allow every person to access the health care they need, whenever and wherever they are.
I’ve also helped re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act with bipartisan support despite resistance from extremists, and I believe it’s wrong that women still continue to make less money than men for doing the same work. I am fighting to make it easier for women and their families to get ahead, and I’ve cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act to help end gender discrimination in pay by making wage data more accessible, empowering women to negotiate for equal pay, and strengthening enforcement.
These are basic principles, and I’m proud to continue defending women against targeted efforts to roll back decades of progress.
I have always been a champion of full equality for everyone, including full marriage equality. In 2008, I joined an amicus brief in opposition to California’s anti-equality Proposition 8, and served for years on the board of San Diego’s LGBT Community Center. In 2015, I celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to make marriage equality the law of the land. In recent years, we’ve made great strides as a nation towards full equality, but there’s still a great deal of work to be done.
It’s still legal in 28 states to fire someone because of their sexual orientation, and in 29 states it’s legal to fire someone because they are transgender. This is completely unacceptable, and that’s why I helped pass the Equality Act, which would extend the non-discrimination protections we enjoy in California to the rest of the country.
We also must insist on our schools being safe spaces for every student. I’ve supported several measures to protect students from bullying at school and am an original cosponsor of the Student Non-Discrimination Act, which would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
During the Trump administration, I was a vocal advocate against the ban on transgender Americans serving in the U.S. military and will always fight against any such discriminatory laws or practices.
Central to all of these rights is real and fair access to voting. That’s why I have worked to restore provisions of the Voting Rights Act designed to protect historically targeted communities from efforts to reduce access and participation in our elections after they were struck down by the Supreme Court. The bipartisan effort is important to ensuring that everyone who is eligible to vote is given the chance to do so, a principle that’s critical to our democracy. In the 116th Congress, I voted to pass the For the People Act to protect and expand voting rights, improve campaign finance rules, and hold public officials accountable to the American public.