Equality, Liberty and Inclusion for All
America has made enormous strides in making equality and inclusion for all a reality in this country, but the work is far from finished. Furthermore, the Trump Administration is rolling back hard-fought progress in anti-discrimination protections and inclusion-promoting policy for women, people of color, immigrants, LGBT people, people living with disabilities, the poor, and for people living at the intersections of those communities. We need members of Congress who are willing to stand against these attacks and every attempt by the Trump Administration to demonize whole populations and make us invisible. As a transgender lesbian woman, working mother, lawyer, and former intelligence analyst, I will stand up for all of us against these attacks, every time, and I will fight for us to keep making progress toward social, economic, and racial justice.
My initial proposals:
A feminist agenda: I support and will fight for the full legal and social equality of all women in all intersections of race, class, ability, sexual orientation and gender identity, which leads so many women to bear multiple burdens of discrimination as women and in other identities. I support equal pay for equal work and reproductive rights for all people, including access to birth control, emergency contraception, reproductive health services and education, and safe and legal abortion under the Roe v Wade decision. I support the role of the Federal government as a guarantor of those rights against interference, and I support an Equal Rights Amendment to clarify the Constitutional equality for women under the law.
LGBT equality – we are not going back: I will co-sponsor and vote for the Equality Act to codify the full equality of LGBT people under federal law, and aim to fight back against state and local attempts to undermine legal protections or inclusion for LGBT Americans under Title VII, Title IX, the Equal Protection Clause, and other statutes and federal law. I will protect transgender military service, and will fight to reinstate protections and favorable policies for LGBT people that this Administration has undone.
Making Congress look like America – representation is power: I am proud to be a transgender lesbian woman, and if elected, I will be the first openly transgender Member of Congress. I will finally get a seat at the table in Congress for hundreds of thousands of Americans like me who cannot see themselves in Congress today. Representation is power and improves the effectiveness of our democracy for all.
Fix DAPA, DACA, and TPS, offer a path to citizenship for Dreamers: America is great in large part because of immigration. I will support a permanent fix to give DACA and previous DAPA recipients a path to citizenship, as well as to restore the legal residency of Temporary Protected Status recipients.
Streamline our immigration bureaucracy: There are over 180 different types of visas for residency in the United States. This complexity is an unnecessary burden to immigrants and U.S. employers. I aim to consolidate cumbersome immigration bureaucracy to the fullest extent we can within treaty obligations and constraints. I will ensure better integration with intelligence and investigative efforts so we may welcome an even broader and more diverse array of immigrants with diverse skills and refugees while still protecting our national security. I will use my Congressional oversight and budgetary powers to push back against arbitrary deportations by ICE, and scrutinize suspicious actions for racial animus.
Advance the full inclusion of people with disabilities in American life: I will defend the ADA from attack by the Trump Administration, as well as ACA and Medicaid programs vital to the lives of people living with disabilities. I will also seek expansions to the ABLE Act to expand the cap and eligibility of ABLE accounts, including to people whose onset of disability is later in life.
Fix benefit gaps that take away people’s insurance or eliminate benefits when they get a job or a small raise: Because our legislation is written by lobbyists and the ultra-wealthy, rather than working or middle class legislators, our programs for the most vulnerable often fail the common sense test for helpfulness at the local level. For instance, a registered nurse I know who struggles with major depression can’t take advantage of any real help from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) because she earns more than the earning cap of $1170 a month. If she applies for SSDI and gets accepted, she will not see a significant increase in her monthly income. And anyone currently accepted in to SSDI will lose their benefits, including Medicare coverage if their earnings go above $1170, with only some limited relief through mitigation programs. I will ensure these disincentives to work and steps toward independence and Inclusion for working people with disabilities are fixed.
Bring racial justice to criminal justice reform: I will support the Sentencing and Corrections Reform Act, which will end the federal “three strikes” provision and reduce mandatory minimum sentences for repeat non-violent drug offenders. These provisions disproportionately incarcerate people of color and divert resources away from correction and recidivism prevention for violent offenders.
Combat violence against vulnerable communities: I will assume a leadership role within the Transgender Equality Task Force and use it as a platform to continually shine a light on the violence against our communities and propose solutions, in close consultation with the Congressional Black Caucus and the Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus and stakeholders from communities of color. I will be a persistent voice calling on DOJ to investigate hate crimes and any police misconduct against trans people, and will aim to financially support states in their often incomplete tracking of data on hate crimes.
Increase federal funding to combat homelessness: I will be an advocate for people facing homelessness – as too many do in the 3rd District, especially in the cities of Lawrence, Lowell, and Haverhill. I will call for increases in HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program funding which provides permanent supportive housing and transitional housing. I will also support increases in McKinney-Vento Emergency Solutions Grant funding to support emergency shelter, homelessness prevention, and rapid re-housing. I will support the ongoing federal coordination work by the US Interagency Council on Homelessness and resist efforts to sunset the Council. I will support additional grants of funding for innovative state and local projects that have promise to prevent or reduce the rate of homelessness. I will also support increases in Title I funding for schools with low-income populations that include homeless children, to better ensure they and their families are receiving critical wrap-around services.
Ban the federal government from contracting with private prison corporations to detain inmates and immigrants, end federal tax break for private prisons: Our justice, immigration and correction system must not be for sale to the lowest bidder. I will defy Attorney General Sessions and support legislation to phase out private prisons, which are a hotbed of civil rights violations and a bad financial deal for Americans – except prison corporate executives, some of whom also benefit from Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) tax breaks. I will also vote to remove this tax break to roll back the use of private prisons at the state and local level.
Decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and encourage decriminalization at the state level: It’s time to end the decades-long, racially unjust, failed experiment to criminalize marijuana, and divert our public money to combat the opioid epidemic and other public safety ends. I will vote for the Marijuana Justice Act, which will not only remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, but will actively encourage states to decriminalize marijuana by restricting certain federal funds from states with marijuana laws that disproportionately impact low-income people and people of color. This Act will also expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes from the record and allow currently serving inmates to petition for reduced sentencing or release.
Privacy is your right: I will support a revival and update of President Obama’s 2012 effort to pass a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, so as to provide enhanced protections and transparency in interactions from mobile phone apps to financial services. Among other benefits, this effort will reverse the giveaway of our Internet privacy protections by the Trump Administration and Congress. Your browsing history must not be sold and stored without your express consent – no matter how much money Internet service providers donate to politicians in Congress.
End the death penalty: Under the principles and limited powers enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, I do not believe the government has a right to deprive people of their lives, outside of war or the necessity to protect innocent lives in a law enforcement context. Furthermore, people of color have disproportionately been sentenced to death. I would vote to abolish the death penalty under federal law and to prohibit federal courts from sentencing defendants to death.