I am committed to protecting the inalienable rights of all Americans. As Governor, I promoted equal protection by banning discrimination against state employees on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, political affiliation, veteran status or disability. As Senator, I will fight for fundamental freedoms so the most vulnerable members of our society can vote without undue burden, men and women earn equal pay for equal work and all Americans are treated equally.
I believe all people, regardless of sexual orientation, should be guaranteed equal rights, including the legal benefits and responsibilities of marriage. As Governor, I campaigned against an amendment to the Virginia constitution that banned any legal recognition of same-sex relationships and signed an executive order to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. As Senator, I was proud to join many of my colleagues in signing the bipartisan amicus brief to the Supreme Court that detailed our belief that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. In November 2013, I was proud to help the Senate pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to ensure that workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will not be tolerated. I will continue to support efforts to ensure equal treatment under the law.
I support the right of women to make their own health and reproductive decisions. We all share the goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions. The right way to do this is through education and access to health care and contraception rather than by restricting and criminalizing women's reproductive decisions. For that reason, I oppose efforts to weaken Roe v. Wade. I believe strongly that access to contraceptives should not be the decision of a for-profit company’s leadership and am disappointed in the Supreme Court’ ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. I am an original cosponsor of the Protecting Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act to restore the contraceptive coverage requirement guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act.
I cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act because I strongly believe men and women must be paid equally for the same work. The current inequity amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars lost over a woman’s lifetime. At a time when every dollar counts for families trying to make ends meet, gender-based discrimination directly impacts the well-being of families and households – which depend on the wages of working mothers as well as working fathers-- across the country.
I also cosponsored the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was signed into law on March 7, 2013. As Lieutenant Governor and Governor, I made it a priority to update our laws on sexual violence and improve the treatment of survivors, and I will continue to actively support these measures as your Senator.
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