Many states and localities do not do an adequate job in protecting the rights of their citizens. When the fundamental rights of life, liberty, and equal opportunity are unfairly denied to a person or a group of people, it is the role of the federal government to step in and fulfill the promise of America.
Ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
There are few things more commendable than serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The opportunity to protect our nation from all enemies is a right our nation’s citizens are able to enjoy. The 1993 policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” prevented lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) men and women from taking advantage of one of our nation’s most basic freedoms – serving our nation openly, honestly, and with honor.
I believe that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is outdated, counterproductive, discriminatory, and its repeal has been long-past due. With the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” on September 20, 2011, the Department of Defense issued guidelines allowing LGB service members the ability to serve openly and honestly in the U.S. Military. As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I join former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, 28 other generals and admirals, 69 percent of service members, and President Obama in supporting the full repeal of the harmful “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
With the passage of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Congress has paved the way for the ultimate erasure of this outdated, discriminatory policy. I continue to work with our military leaders to ensure that the repeal of the policy is done in an appropriate manner that will ensure all military personnel, regardless of their sexual identities, are treated equally in the Armed Forces.
Protecting Equal Opportunity
Historically, one of the most important duties of the federal government has been creating, improving, and enforcing laws that ensure all citizens have equal access to education, jobs, and happiness. I continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that students feel safe from bullying and discrimination in their schools by cosponsoring the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act. I have supported laws like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that ensure women are paid equal to men for doing the same job. I have also supported legislation such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would make it illegal for an employer to hire, fire, promote, or engage in any other personnel decisions based purely on race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, sex, disability, gender, or gender identity.
Students have the right to learn without fear of violence or aggression. Similarly, workers should be treated based on their performance, and not fear losing their jobs because of who they are. By instituting these bills into law and securing the civil rights of students and workers, all people will have the opportunity to be successful
I will continue to work for equal rights for all Americans. The United States is the greatest country in the world and no one should be discriminated against or denied their basic rights here.
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