If America stands for anything, it stands for equal opportunity for all. For too long, our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans brothers and sisters have been discriminated against and have not enjoyed the rights and privileges others enjoy. For much of our history, it was even worse: their lives were destroyed, threatened or taken for having the courage to be themselves.
America is not alone in its history of poor treatment towards people who are LGBTQ. On a belated honeymoon, my wife and I were walking down a street in Paris and passed by a marker on the corner of a building. It informed us that it was at that place that two men were arrested for homosexuality in the 18th century and weeks later burned at the stake. It went on to say that the crowd was so repulsed by their death that France outlawed this punishment. Throughout history, people within the LGBTQ community have been belittled, segregated, imprisoned and killed by oppressive, authoritarian or fascist governments. It is therefore incumbent on our work within the US government to see to it that LGBTQ equality is a cornerstone of civil rights in the United States.
Anything less than LGBTQ equality is un-American, un-Christian, and against the fundamental teaching of our oldest religious traditions which is to love each other.
Over the past few decades, California has taken the lead in nationwide efforts to reject exclusionary policies of the past, and to restore constitutional rights for the LGBTQ community. In just the past few years, overwhelming national public opinion has shifted to accept marriage equality, and to reject discrimination against gay and transgender people, and discrimination of all kinds. This is encouraging, and speaks volumes to the commitment to fairness and equality that we all share as Americans, especially as Californians.
As recently as last year, the Public Policy Institute of California found that our current health care systems leave more than 1 in 3 LGBTQ Americans struggling to afford healthcare, and a startling 1 in 3 transgender individuals having to educate their doctors on transgender related health concerns. The resulting health challenges and personal struggles compound what are often already heartbreaking effects.
Every citizens’ health and well-being should be treated as the essential human right that it is, and that we cannot allow our divisions to dictate how we treat one another. We the people must fight for fairness and equal opportunity under the law; not for some, not only for Californians, but for every single American.
In line with our shared values, I support H.R. 5, The ‘Equality Act’, that will provide members of the LGBTQ community greater protections under federal law in public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credits, and in the jury system. It is time to take care of those we call our own equally, and to protect all of our hard working people.