As the director of a civil rights agency as well as the ADA and Title VI Coordinator for an entire city, it is my duty to ensure equitable treatment for all. It is my privilege to continue beyond any election. In order for civil rights laws to achieve their ultimate goal and purpose they must be expanded to ensure more protections for more people.
I will start by stating that as it stands, an overwhelming number of Americans who find themselves in a majority class who may have once believed themselves safe in numbers are increasingly becoming subjects of racism, segregation and separation. So while the civil rights laws originated based on the minority experience, and, as a result, most complaints derived from this population, members of a majority class must understand that civil rights laws were meant for their protection also, and they should not feel afraid, intimidated, or guilty for taking advantage of a system that was designed to defend them as well. In 2017, as the director for the Gary Human Relations Commission, in conjunction with the City of Gary, I hosted a rally in solidarity with the march in Charlottesville against hate and bigotry. This is the type of energy I intend to take to Washington.
In determining the next stage of civil rights, we must first understand that human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Treating each other with fairness and equality must be purposeful and affirmative. Each day we must rise, look at ourselves in the mirror and believe that just because someone is different from us we can choose to treat them equally and fairly and give them just as much opportunity as we would have given to someone who we believe is similar to us. As easy as it may sound it remains difficult for some to do, so for the sake of collective human progress and the nation’s peace, the civil rights law compels us to do what is right, especially for those who have controversial belief systems.
After a long history of racism and segregation in the United States, President Lyndon B. Johnson effectively used appeals to Christian ethics to garner the support he needed to enact the civil rights law. He was one bold enough to ask where in the ethic was there justification for killing children in a church in Alabama or denying an equal education? Or barring fathers and mothers from competing for jobs that would feed and clothe their families? It just didn’t make sense. So, on July 2, 1964, President Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act which outlawed discrimination on every front. Nearly sixty years later, we cannot forget the blood, the many sacrifices, the sweat and tears that went into its enactment. We cannot forget the great strides and doors the law opened for minorities everywhere, but now we are in need of expansion. The next level of civil rights includes more protections and rights for the LGBTQ+ community (See LGBTQ), job seekers, and housing voucher holders.
In 2016, my opponent, Senator Todd Young received a 2% rating from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which supports gay rights. That’s because Mr. Young pretends not to hold a position on same-sex marriage meanwhile he has no problem voting against laws like the Maloney Amendment (2016) which would have protected same sex individuals from discrimination in the military. Now there are millions of future veterans serving in our military right now who identify as members of the LGBTQ community. One should wonder how Mr. Young, a veteran himself can possibly reconcile his decision to withhold discrimination protections from people who are currently serving in the armed forces who will some day become veterans themselves. It is still not clear if Mr. Young believes “sexual orientation and gender identity” should be protected classes. In 2019, as the Director of the Gary Human Relations Commission, I had the pleasure of assisting in the process of providing and enforcing protection for the LGBTQ+ community in the City of Gary.
Religious organizations are already allowed to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community in the civil rights law. That said, the LGBTQ+ community should have civil rights in order to be able to simply live and work peacefully wherever they desire. Furthermore, I fail to see how providing members of the LGBTQ+ community with basic rights prevents anyone from practicing their religion.
American Job Seekers
Growing the American workforce is vital to our country’s prosperity and growth. We must advocate for policies and practices to ensure that Americans of all backgrounds are able to more fully develop and profit from their talents. Therefore, we must recognize our need for hiring process reform to aid in the elimination of discrimination and long waiting periods in the hiring process. Too many individuals are able to work and still cannot get jobs because they are being discriminated against in the beginning of the process due to name discrimination, where they live, word-of-mouth recruitment, and employers who use other application information to indicate one’s protected class or political view. Enough is enough. Upon my election to Congress I intend to work on a new hiring system which will prevent United States employers from accessing any information which may indicate an applicant’s race, sex, religion, age, etc., in the hiring process. Employees are generally protected from discrimination once they acquire a job thanks to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. My system goes deeper by preventing discrimination in the first place in the hiring process.
The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of December 2017 (TCJA) promised better job opportunities for workers across America. Nothing could be further from the truth as this administration continues to boast of unreal progress. Even before the pandemic, the real unemployment rate was increasing because those who want full-time jobs can’t seem to get them and when they do the jobs are always low-wage and without insurance and benefits. In December 2019, the Brookings Institution, a non-partisan research foundation conducted a study that showed nearly half of U.S. workers (44%) were employed in low-wage jobs that made it impossible for them to get ahead.
According to the Russell Sage Foundation, a foundation which dedicates itself to “strengthening the methods, data, and theoretical core of the social sciences in order to better understand societal problems and develop informed responses,” employer’s choices have contributed largely to a declining labor-force in the United States over the past four decades. We must do everything we can to add to America’s workforce, and that means ensuring equality for all, especially for women. I am a strong advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. Women deserve equal pay for equal work and the ability to be included in the draft if they so desire. I also promise to address accommodation requirements on a federal level for pregnant women.
Additionally, the EEOC must be expanded to protect workers who work for employers with 10 or more employees and address youth discrimination. The ADA should require all cities to have a designated ADA Coordinator and a rule that allows all complaints to be enforced by the local government if necessary. Finally, Title VI should include protections for all the protected classes (not just for race, color, or national origin).
Housing Voucher Recipients
As a member of the U.S. Senate, I promise to create a team of experts that will help me introduce legislation that will redefine what it means to make it easier for all Americans to acquire a home wherever they want it. My opponent, Todd Young has only pretended to introduce this type of initiative in the Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act. However, the act fails to address income-based discrimination which allows landlords to continually discriminate against housing voucher (Section 8) recipients and keep them out of real “opportunity zones” which are really affluent neighborhoods where there are good schools. Section 8 voucher recipients should be able to use their vouchers wherever they want. The myth that low-income individuals reduce property values and are irresponsible is a self-fulfilling prophecy propagated by individuals with ulterior motives. As it stands, Indiana is one of many states without income-based anti-discrimination laws making it possible for landlords to disparately impact many lives. I’m not interested in blanket policies that sound good but actually do very little to make things better for Americans. If Mr. Young can’t properly make a real effort to tackle income-based discrimination in housing then he should step aside and yield to the fully capable. This type of discrimination can only be handled by experts in the field and those equipped to tackle it. I promise to work closely with experts in the field to help me create legislation that makes it against the law to deny housing voucher recipients a home. Let’s get to work!