Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Over the last several decades, Congress has addressed some of our most pressing civil rights concerns by passing bipartisan legislation that protects American workers from discrimination on the basis of color, race, religion, age, disability and sex. Our civil rights laws have strengthened our country, and brought us closer to the Beloved Community where all people are able to succeed based on their abilities, not on the labels used to limit them.
We have taken some stumbles backward in recent years. The Supreme Court has weakened some of these basic protections in ways that Congress never intended. They have undermined the protections for workers, for older Americans, for the disabled, for racial and ethnic minorities, for women and for those in the military. We must work together to restore those rights.
But we have also taken some wonderful steps forward recently with the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, repealing the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy, all of which I was happy to vote for.
The struggle for civil rights and human rights is bigger than one law, one vote, or one judicial decision. It’s beyond one presidential term or act of Congress. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, and each generation, each citizen, each president and each member of Congress must do his or her part. It has always required ordinary men and women with extraordinary vision, who have helped build this democracy. Together all of our efforts comprise the struggle of a nation to build the Beloved Community, a nation at peace with itself, that respects the worth and dignity of each and every human being.