Thank you to everyone who participated in my telephone town hall this evening. As always, if you have questions or concerns and were not able to speak with me please call my office this week at (631) 289-6500.
“Economic patriotism says that instead of making it tougher for middle-class families to get ahead, let’s reward hard work for every American.” —President Obama speaking on the economy
Today we mark the 50th anniversary of the historic Civil Rights Act that was signed into law on July 2, 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson.
Before the Civil Rights Act, far too many people faced discrimination in public facilities, schools and workplaces. Through the work of courageous civil rights leaders, who were often threatened and some even killed, the climate of hate in this country was changed forever. Together political leaders put their differences aside to pass landmark legislation banning discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Today we owe a debt of gratitude to all those who suffered in the fight for justice. While our country has made enormous progress, there is still much more to be done to ensure that every American, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation, enjoys equal freedoms and opportunities under the law.
Each June we set aside time to celebrate the history and accomplishments of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in the United States.
June 28th marks the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York, which is widely considered to be the event that sparked the modern movement for LGBT equality in the United States. Since then, we have fought tirelessly together for basic rights and opportunities for our families, our friends, and neighbors. This time last year we celebrated the momentous Supreme Court decision that ruled section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. And today, we continue that celebration as states pass marriage equality laws and others have discriminatory laws struck down.
The LGBT community is filled with strong men and women who have persevered in the face of immense adversity. Yet, from that struggle we have witnessed significant achievements in the arts, business, politics, and sports. These accomplishments continue to serve as a reminder that our country’s success is built on the foundation of a diverse population and that anyone, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation, can contribute to American society.
However, the fight for full equality is far from over.
In Congress, I am proud to be a cosponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would make it illegal for employers to deny job opportunities, fire or otherwise discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation. While House Republicans have blocked consideration of this important legislation, President Obama announced only a few days ago that he would be banning workplace discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors by way of executive order. This is a small but important step that will lead to larger advances for workplace equality.
While significant barriers still stand in our way, together, we can win this. I will continue to fight with you to ensure that true equality is achieved for all Americans.
Challenges lay ahead of us, but I’m confident that together, we’ll meet them head on and continue the transformation of our society into one of acceptance and tolerance for all its citizens. This LGBT Pride month please join me in celebrating the many accomplishments of the LGBT community and to recognize and honor their continued struggle for equality.