Equal protection and freedom for all are matters of basic civil and human rights, and it’s wrong for politicians to attack women’s health. 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 of 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.
Unbelievably, some in Congress still want to fight battles over reproductive choice and access to contraception. Those wars were fought and won 40 years 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.
I 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 in this economy, and I support the Paycheck Fairness Act to guarantee that women are paid fairly and earn the same pay as men for the same work.
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’m proud to be a cosponsor of 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.
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.