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Civil Rights

 

Education and Labor

A quality public education is a powerful force for economic and social mobility. As Chair of the Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, I am working to expand opportunities for people of all backgrounds. We must close the equity gap for students of color, who continue to face disparate outcomes in our public education system.

 

The Trump administration has been undermining, rather than protecting, the civil rights of students and workers. I take seriously the obligation of Congress to advance equity, hold institutions accountable, and provide meaningful oversight of the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, and the Trump administration. I will fight for all students and workers so they can learn and work in safe, inclusive, and welcoming environments.

LGBTQ Equality

All Americans should be free from discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. I have long advocated for LGBTQ rights. I’ve challenged Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reinstate protections for transgender students, and I’m leading the Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act, which would update the Older Americans Act to strengthen safeguards for LGBT elders.

 

I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Equality Act, H.R. 5, to amend our civil rights laws to clarify that prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of sex includes prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.


Elections and Access to Voting

The right to vote is the core of our democracy, and it is critical that all Americans who qualify to vote have the opportunity to make their voices heard at the polls. For too long our nation did not allow minorities to vote; even after that right was afforded to all Americans, many jurisdictions engaged in shameful practices that effectively made it impossible for many citizens to exercise their rights.

 

In the 1960’s, the Voting Rights Act gave all citizens 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. 

 

But the right of all citizens to fully participate in our democracy is under threat in ways we haven’t seen since the civil rights and post-Watergate eras. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision undermined that intent. There is no question that Citizens United has harmed our democracy, and it must be overturned. The Supreme Court further undermined voting rights by overturning key provisions of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, making it easier for states and localities to implement discriminatory practices that block access to the ballot box.

 

Voter suppression efforts and voter identification laws often restrict access for minority, military, disabled, and low-income voters, as well as seniors and college students. I am also deeply concerned about potential foreign interference in elections.

 

I am a strong supporter of H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which addresses campaign finance reform, voting rights, election security, accountability for government officials, and more. It includes many of the voting provisions that Oregonians have already adopted and appreciate, helping states across the country follow Oregon’s lead by expanding automatic voter registration, online registration, having paper ballots, and vote-by-mail to make it easier for millions of people to exercise their right to vote.

 

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

January 17, 2020 Press Release
Walking around this enormous camp just over the bridge from America – the land of opportunity – we saw families and so many children living in squalor trying to make a life for themselves.
December 16, 2019 In The News

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act, sending it to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

Bonamici said she was grateful that the House passed the legislation to address historical injustices and honor the fishing treaty rights of four Columbia River Tribes.

December 13, 2019 Press Release
The Department did not discuss or bargain for these changes and decisions with AFGE, and we are concerned that the hiring process is now insulated from appropriate accountability and transparency.
December 6, 2019 Press Release
Elections are at the heart of our democracy, and we must make sure no one impedes the ability of citizens to express themselves at the ballot box, regardless of where they live.
November 15, 2019 In The News

A new rule in Oregon prohibits U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from detaining people at state courthouses without a judicial arrest warrant.

The rule also protects people going to or from court proceedings from being stopped in nearby entryways, sidewalks and parking lots.

October 22, 2019 Press Release
We are concerned that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is failing to protect the civil rights of LGBTQ students.
October 22, 2019 In The News

Legislation sponsored by a Democrat that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers is finding some support across the aisle, but many Republicans are still reluctant to get behind the measure.

October 15, 2019 Press Release
“I hear from many people who tell me that higher education is out of reach, or who are struggling with burdensome student loan debt. These conversations have guided my efforts to improve access to higher education, and I’m proud of the work we have done crafting the College Affordability Act.”
October 8, 2019 In The News

While the impeachment of Donald Trump was at the top of mind at Gearhart’s congressional town hall Monday, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici fielded questions about the federal deficit, foreign policy and her position on equal rights.

But overall it was the topic of civility that dominated evening, the fifth of sixth town hall events in the state.

October 7, 2019 In The News

As Democrats in the House of Representatives begin an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, Western Washington County residents packed the Cornelius Public Library on Wednesday, Oct. 2, to ask questions of U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici.

Multiple people asked Bonamici about the topic that has recently dominated national news: impeachment.

"We have a responsibility to hold this administration accountable," Bonamici said.