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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.


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

March 21, 2019 In The News

Twice in nine months, at least three members of Oregon’s congressional delegation have paid a visit to a little-known school in Salem run by the federal government.

“The goal was to find out what the hell is going on,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader, still fuming from a tense, 75-minute discussion at Chemawa Indian School, one of just four off-reservation boarding schools in the country.

March 14, 2019 Press Release
No one should have to worry about whether they will receive needed elder care support and services because of their identity or who they love.
March 8, 2019 Press Release


WASHINGTON, DC [03/08/19] – Today Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) praised the passage of H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which would provide long-overdue government reforms and address the dominance of big money in American politics. 


H.R. 1 is the signature legislative package of the new House Democratic Majority. It addresses campaign finance reform, voting rights, election security, accountability for government officials, and more.


March 3, 2019 In The News

The Portland Womxn’s March begins with a rally noon Sunday in downtown Portland with a march through nearby streets to follow.

While some other women’s marches were held around the country on the Jan. 19-21 weekend, organizers for the Portland event chose to focus on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and events during those dates, which moved the Portland march and rally to Sunday.

March 3, 2019 In The News

For the most part, Sunday’s Portland Womxn’s March & Rally for Action was an upbeat event, featuring speakers and crowds who were united in their support of progressive values and causes.

The attendees, who numbered about 2,000 according to Portland Police estimates, gathered at noon on the Portland State University campus, on a clear, chilly day, to listen to speakers, and then march along downtown streets.

March 2, 2019 In The News

About 2,000 people filled downtown Portland for the 2019 Womxn's March and Rally for Action on Sunday.

March 2, 2019 In The News

Women took to the streets Sunday afternoon as part of the "Womxn's March and Rally for Action."

It was a peaceful march and many of those who attended said they were there to promote unity and gender rights. 

Organizers kicked off the event with presentations, music and indigenous speakers. Lawmakers including Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici were there. 

Read more here

February 28, 2019 In The News

The 2019 Womxn’s March & Rally for Action will take place March 3. The theme of the march is to ​educate, engage and empower​ womxn to fight for positive change and equality. The event will consist of a rally, a march and booths where participants can engage with local nonprofits and social justice organizations.

The event will take place from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. March 3 at South Park Blocks, Smith Union at Portland State University (SW Montgomery and SW Park) There will be a rally at noon followed by a march at 1 p.m., with booths open until 3 pm.

February 21, 2019 In The News

Nearly 50 House Democrats are calling on a top government watchdog to investigate the force-feeding of immigrant detainees who have been on hunger strikes in protest of abusive conditions and prolonged imprisonment.

February 20, 2019 In The News

With the decadesold Violence Against Women Act left out of a recent funding bill, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici met with staff of The Harbor in Astoria on Tuesday to discuss how the decision could impact the organization and the services it provides around domestic violence and sexual assault in Clatsop County.

A funding bill approved by Congress and President Donald Trump this month did not extend the landmark act, which has lapsed. First enacted in 1994, the act provides grants and other support to groups that work on issues related to domestic violence and sexual assault.