Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Civil Rights

 

Elections and Access to Voting
 

The right of all Americans to fully participate in our democracy is being threatened today in ways we haven’t seen since the civil rights and post-Watergate eras.  In the 1960’s, passage of the Voting Rights Act gave all Americans equal access to our election process, regardless of race. In the 1970’s, The Federal Election Campaign Act brought a new era of transparency and accountability in campaign finance, and thirty years later Congress passed the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act to rid the system of unchecked corporate soft-money.  Unfortunately the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision undermines that intent, and the result is in more instead of less money in politics. 
 
Across the country, several states are trying to turn the clock back on hard-earned advancements in voting rights.  Voter suppression efforts and identification laws often restrict voting access for minority, military, disabled, and low-income voters, as well as seniors and college students.  To address this issue I have signed on as a cosponsor of the Voter Empowerment Act, which will prohibit the egregious practices that are designed to prevent people from having their ballot counted.
 
The Supreme Court recently struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which for a half century has been essential to preventing states with a history of discrimination from disenfranchising minority voters. This ruling is very disappointing and wrongheaded. Almost immediately a number of these states moved to restrict voting rights for their citizens.  I pledge to work with my colleagues in Congress to protect the right to vote. Congress must move quickly to reenact a new Section 4 to meet the court’s newly announced standards.
 
Recently I joined many of my colleagues in sending a letter to 3200 college and university presidents encouraging them to provide voter registration opportunities to their students, and to educate their students about requirements for voting.  Greater voter turnout can only be achieved when our community institutions, in addition to government, are involved  in expanding access to voting.
 

Campaign Finance
 

The Supreme Court’s opinion in Citizens United v. FEC has greatly impacted the funding of campaigns. Gone is the transparency and accountability that kept shadowy organizations with hidden backers from influencing our elections. The result of Citizens United has been to allow anonymous donors to drown out the voice of everyday Americans.
 
Citizens United is a constitutional decision that can’t be overruled by Congress without ratification of a constitutional amendment. In the meantime, Congress can require more disclosure. I have cosponsored the DISCLOSE Act, and have signed a discharge petition to request that the Speaker bring it to the floor of the House for a vote.  Passing this bill will be a first step toward ensuring that all Americans know who is funding political campaigns. In the long term I support the DARE plan, which consists of four steps - Disclose, Amend, Reform, Elect - that will fix our broken campaign finance system. This plan includes:
 
• Disclosure of the donors to Super PAC-associated 501(c)(4) organizations, and corporations that are spending many millions of dollars to influence election outcomes.
• Amend the constitution to make clear that regulation of campaign finance does not violate the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee.
• Reform the campaign finance system by setting up a publicly financed small-donor matching program.
• Elect candidates who support campaign finance reform.
 

LGBTQ
 

All Americans deserve equal rights, including the right to marry, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. I am a proud cosponsor of both the Respect for Marriage Act, which will repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and the Social Security Equality Act to extend Social Security benefits to same-sex partners. Additionally I have cosponsored bills to guarantee equal access to health care, COBRA benefits, family and medical leave, and other employment benefits.  
 
I also strongly support legislation to end government discrimination against same sex couples in adoption and immigration. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act will eliminate bias against same-sex couples in state adoption laws, and the Uniting American Families Act will treat same-sex immigrant partners of American citizens the same as opposite-sex immigrant partners of American citizens for visa purposes.
 

Access to Justice  
 

Our democracy relies on an accessible and effective justice system to adjudicate rights and wrongs. When I was in law school, I helped low-income families access quality legal advice through Legal Aid. More than 60 million Americans qualify for legal assistance programs and these attorneys assist the most vulnerable in our society, including military veterans seeking disability benefits, women seeking protection from their abusers, and families facing unlawful evictions. I have fought hard for full funding for legal aid, and I oppose efforts to eliminate funding for these vital programs.

 

More on Civil Rights

August 27, 2018 In The News

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici says she will continue to defend the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively, even as a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court heads in another direction.

The Democrat from Beaverton spoke last week after she met with representatives from Local 503 of Service Employees International Union, which not only represents the largest group of state government employees but also child and home care workers. They met in Beaverton.

July 27, 2018 In The News

Lawmakers say they are renewing efforts to find what has been elusive legislation to keep families together at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the Trump administration announced it would meet the latest court deadline for reuniting more than 1,400 children it had separated from their immigrant parents.

July 26, 2018 Press Release
The Trump administration needs to stop making excuses and reunite these kids with their families as quickly as possible so children can begin to heal from this traumatic experience.
July 19, 2018 In The News

U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici honored Ruthie Berman & the late Connie Kurtz for their tireless activism in our LGBT community & in addition to acknowledging their efforts Bonamici along with her colleagues Florida Representatives Ted Deutch & Charlie Christ advocated for the passage of the Ruthie & Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act. The bill introduced in 2017 would better serve LGBT elders who face higher rates of poverty, pronounced social isolation & less access to health care due to barriers in the aging system & past discrimination.

July 18, 2018 Press Release
Our congressional staffs recently requested the Office of Refugee Resettlement permit them to tour the children’s facility in Oregon, as did Senators Merkley and Wyden and Congresswoman Bonamici the week before. Both requests were denied.
July 18, 2018 In The News

Immigration detainees at a federal facility in Sheridan say harsh, prison-like conditions have left them feeling depressed and suicidal, according to court documents filed this week. 

Oregon's federal public defender filed habeas corpus petitions Wednesday on behalf of five unnamed men being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Sheridan. They are among the more than 120 detainees sent to the Yamhill County facility on May 31 to await criminal prosecution under the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy.

July 18, 2018 In The News

On July 3, the U.S. Department of Education announced it would rescind legal guidelines for universities that use race as a factor in their student admissions process, and instead will begin promoting race-neutral admission policies.

July 18, 2018 In The News

The federal agency that controls the detention center where immigrant children are being held in Portland again denied requests July 17 from the state's five Democratic congress members to visit the facility.

July 18, 2018 In The News

The federal agency that controls the detention center where immigrant children are being held in Portland again denied requests July 17 from the state's five Democratic congress members to visit the facility.

July 16, 2018 In The News

The imprisonment of 123 asylum seekers at the federal prison in Sheridan has sparked the creation of a new local activist group called ICE Out of Sheridan.

Members will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, at McMinnville Cooperative Ministries, 544 N.E. Second St., to discuss their plans to oppose what they consider to be excesses by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.