Human & Civil Rights [Edited]
As a trial attorney and through public service I have spent my entire adult life fighting to protect the civil rights of others. After graduating from law school at the top of my class and as editor of Law Review, I could have taken my pick of high-paying jobs. I chose, instead, to join Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) for $341 a month and represent Native Americans in Western Nebraska and South Dakota for 2 years. After that, I worked for two more years for Western Nebraska Legal Services as their lead litigation attorney.
I spent a few years working for NAACP. I understand the needs of minorities.
LGBT persons deserve to be treated as equal citizens. In some states, it is still legal to fire someone because they are gay and deny housing because an individual is transgender. That is unacceptable and must change. We need to end discrimination in all forms.
I support legislation like the Equality Act that was introduced in Congress in 2015 but allowed to languish. Among its provisions, it would have amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in places of public accommodation. It would also have authorized the Department of Justice to bring civil actions, and revised public school desegregation standards so that students are assigned without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. Students could not be barred from attending a public college for the same reasons. It would have provided government employees with protections and prohibited programs receiving federal funding from denying benefits to LGBT persons.
As part of my public service I am now chairperson of the Ulster County Human Rights Commission, which has been tasked by the Ulster County Legislature with drafting a comprehensive human rights law for Ulster County. This law will provide support for transgender rights.
About 10 years ago, I decided to go to Divinity School at Yale with the purpose of becoming a deacon of the United Methodist Church. Being a deacon means that I direct my church to extend good works outside the church and into the community. In this capacity, I helped found a homeless shelter, the Darmstadt Homeless Shelter, and have supported a soup kitchen that generally feeds 80 families a week. My commitment to public service informs everything I do. I will bring this commitment to the federal level.