Civil Rights

Our nation was founded on the principle that everyone is entitled to the same, unalienable rights. Today, our nation continues to adapt as history demands we expand the definition of equal. In my service to San Diego, that means ensuring respect for all. Discrimination has no place in a nation as great as ours. I will continue to oppose policies fueled by hateful rhetoric that marginalize Americans. That means standing up for women in school and in the workplace and ensuring they can make their own health care decisions. It means standing up for our LGBT community because no one should be targeted for who they are or who they love. We must also ensure our minority communities have a voice and that refugees and immigrants have the same opportunity to build a better life in America? just as our ancestors did. Finally, Americans have the right to safety from hate-motivated attacks and the epidemic of gun violence that continues to plague our communities. 

Fighting for Equality

Every American is granted the same rights under our Constitution, which says that everyone is created equal. We've come a long way in the fight for equality, but we still have more work to do. I'm fighting to ensure you can marry who you love, that you receive equal pay for equal work, and that survivors of sexual assault and harassment have stronger protections and greater access to legal remedies.

  • Introduced an amendment that became law to affirm President Obama’s action to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees.
  • Cosponsored and helped pass the Equality Act, which would include gender identity and sexual orientation as two identities protected under federal civil rights.
  • Cosponsored and helped pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen the Equal Pay Act and give women more tools to challenge unfair pay.
  • Cosponsored the Reproductive Rights are Human Rights Act, which would require the State Department to include the status of reproductive rights in each country’s annual country report on human rights practices.
  • Supported reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which provides for increased protections for victims of domestic violence. The legislation includes expanded protections for Native American women, LGBTQ individuals, students, and immigrant women.
  • Cosponsored and helped pass the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act, which would establish rights for survivors of sexual assault, including the right to a rape kit, notification prior to the destruction of the rape kit, and be informed of the results of a rape kit. President Obama signed this bill into law in October 2016.
  • Cosponsored the Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2015, which would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Strengthening Voting Rights 

Among our most basic, sacred rights as Americans is the right to vote. While we've made great strides in the fight for equal voting rights and access, we have to do more. Americans across the country still face discrimination and disenfranchisement at the ballot box. We must continue to challenge injustice and ensure every American can exercise their constitutional right to vote freely.

  • Cosponsored the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which restores protections under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It addresses the discriminatory state laws aimed to suppress voting passed after Shelby County v. Holder by creating a nationwide formula to only focus on states that have recently passed discriminatory voting laws.
  • Cosponsored the Automatic Voter Registration Act, which requires state motor vehicle registries to submit identifying information of individuals to the state's election official. The bill provides an opportunity for individuals to opt out.

Protecting Healthcare

Protecting the health and safety of women and the LGBT community ensures their right to quality, affordable care--just like every other American. As a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, I was on the frontline fighting against the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood.

  • Cosponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify Roe v. Wade, preventing states from imposing burdensome restrictions on abortion providers or banning abortion prior to viability or if a doctor believes that continuing pregnancy would harm a woman’s health.
  • Cosponsored the Access to Birth Control Act, which would ensure that pharmacies without the prescribed medication in stock must order it in a timely manner, refer the woman to another pharmacy that will fill the prescription, or transfer the prescription so that she can pick it up at a pharmacy confirmed to have the medication in stock.
  • Cosponsored the EACH Woman Act, which requires the federal government to ensure coverage for abortion care in public health insurance programs including Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • Cosponsored the Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal HIV Discrimination Act of 2017, which would review federal and state laws that impose criminal liability on individuals with HIV, to ensure institutions and services do not discriminate against those that are HIV positive.
  • Cosponsored the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017, which would prohibit the practice of conversion therapy as a harmful and ineffective treatment.

Expanding Opportunity

The American Dream was born out of our nation’s belief that everyone should have equal opportunity to achieve their own version of success, regardless of race, origin, gender, religion, or socio-economic status. We must continue to work toward full equality in education and the workforce by lifting up those who have historically faced adversity as they try to make their American Dream a reality.

  • Cosponsored the STEM Opportunities Act, which would promote data-driven research on the participation and trajectories of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM so that policymakers can design more effective policies and practices to reduce barriers for women and minorities in STEM.
  • Cosponsored the Women’s Small Business Ownership Act, which would provide access to resources for women entrepreneurs and to simplify grant application processes.
  • Voted to strengthen the entrepreneurial programs in the National Science Foundation that support women as well as voted to support NASA initiatives which encourage women and girls to study STEM and pursue careers in space.

Supporting an Inclusive Military

Brave Americans who volunteer to serve our country deserve our gratitude and respect, which means every servicemember--regardless of gender, sexual orientation or race get the benefits they earned through their service. 

  • Cosponsored the MARCH for Military Women Act (Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health)which would extend federal health insurance coverage for abortion care to servicewomen who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. It would also lift the current ban on providing abortion care at military facilities.
  • Cosponsored the Veteran Spouses Equal Treatment Act, which would ensure that if veterans or service members have a spouse of the same sex, their spouse will be afforded the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.
  • Voted to fund enhanced investigation of military sexual assault when he voted to pass an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that provides $10 million in additional funds to increase sexual assault training for investigators.
  • Voted to allow World War II Women Airforce Service Pilots to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Cosponsored the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, which would ensure that members of the armed forces who served honorably, but were given a punitive discharge classification solely because of their sexual orientation, have their records corrected to reflect their honorable service. 

Advocating for Commonsense Gun Safety Reform

We’ve witnessed far too many tragedies across the nation and it’s past time for commonsense gun safety laws that protect our communities and keep guns out of the hands of those who may harm us. These tragedies can be prevented if Congress implements universal background checks, bans weapons of war, and prohibits terrorists and domestic abusers from purchasing firearms. These measures won’t stop all gun violence, but if we are able to save even a single life, it would be worth it.

  • Cosponsored and helped pass the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would close the gun show and online sale loophole by requiring a background check for every firearm sale, stopping purchases by those who would otherwise be ineligible to own a firearm.
  • Introduced the STANDUP Act, which would expand evidence-based suicide prevention training to students in grades 6 through 12. It would also provide training to students and schools for threat identification, triage, and intervention, as well as guidance and protocol for coordinating with local law enforcement using established school threat, assessment models.
  • Cosponsored the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019, which would criminalize manufacturing and selling assault weapons as well as large-capacity ammunition feeding devices, keeping dangerous weapons of war off our streets.
  • Cosponsored the Disarm Hate Act, which would prohibit a person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime or obtained an enhanced sentence due to bias for a crime involving a weapon, use of force, or threatened use of force from obtaining a firearm.
  • Cosponsored the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, which would bar convicted stalkers from buying or owning guns, and close the ‘boyfriend loophole’ to ensure dating partners are prohibited from buying or owning guns.
  • Cosponsored the Keep Americans Safe Act, which criminalizes selling and manufacturing large capacity ammunition feeding devices.
  • Cosponsored the Raise the Age Act, which raises the age for an individual to purchase a firearm to 21 years of age from 18 years of age.
  • Helped pass the Department of Health and Human Services Appropriations Act 2020, which designated $25 million to the Center for Disease Control and $25 million to the National Institutes of Health for researching gun violence and mortality rates.

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