It’s wrong for politicians to attack women’s health. My wife and I have a long history of supporting Planned Parenthood and in Congress I stood up to Republicans when they voted to defund Planned Parenthood. My opponent has said she opposes a woman’s right to choose and would restrict it. She said she would defund Planned Parenthood, which would reduce women’s access to family planning, cancer screenings, and other health care essentials.

From my time serving on the board of the San Diego LGBT Center, to working for full equality in Congress, I have always fought for the LGBT community. My opponent opposes marriage equality, and supports a federal definition of marriage to undo it. She said she prefers to not engage in what she called ‘social issues.'

Social issues are who gets invited to a birthday party! Equal protection and freedom for all are not social issues, but matters of basic civil and human rights. We owe it to America to stand up and speak out for what’s right. I always have, and always will.

Women’s Rights

I arrived in Congress at a time when the Republican Leadership was setting a new standard for policies attacking women. Time and again, Tea Partiers on the far-right have forced votes hoping to take away the right of women to make their own health care decisions, or even to simply have access to safe health care. I stood up to Republicans when they voted to defund Planned Parenthood and tried to allow employers to deny coverage for basic women’s health care, like birth control. 

Unbelievably, some in Congress still want to fight battles over reproductive choice and access to contraception. Those wars were fought and won 30-40 years ago. I will always defend a woman’s right to have the health care she wants and believe that only a woman, her family, and her doctor should be able to decide what is best for her health. I am the only pro-choice candidate in this race backed by Planned Parenthood. 

I helped re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act with bipartisan support despite resistance from extremists, and I believe it's wrong that women still continue to make less money than men for doing the same work. I am fighting to make it easier for women and their families to get ahead in this economy, and I support the Paycheck Fairness Act to guarantee that women are paid fairly and earn the same pay as men for the same work.

These are basic principles, but I’m the only candidate in this race who has been willing to defend these rights, and I’m proud to continue defending women against these targeted efforts to roll back decades of progress.

LGBT Rights

I have always been a champion of full equality for everyone, including full marriage equality. In 2008, I joined an amicus brief in opposition to California’s anti-equality Proposition 8, and served for years on the board of San Diego’s LGBT Community Center. Last year, I celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to make marriage equality the law of the land. In recent years, we’ve made great strides as a nation towards full equality, but there’s still a great deal of work to be done.

It's still legal in 29 states to fire someone because of their sexual orientation, and in 33 states it's legal to fire someone because they are transgender. This is completely unacceptable, and that's why I'm proud to be a cosponsor of the Equality Act, which would extend the non-discrimination protections we enjoy in California to the rest of the country. 

We must also insist on our schools being safe for every student. I’ve supported several measures to protect students from bullying at school and am an original cosponsor of the Student Non-Discrimination Act, which would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Voting Rights

Central to all of these rights is real and fair access to voting. That’s why I have worked to restore provisions of the Voting Rights Act designed to protect historically targeted communities from efforts to reduce access and participation in our elections after they were struck down by the Supreme Court. The bipartisan effort is important to ensuring that everyone who is eligible to vote is given the chance to do so, a principle that’s critical to our democracy.

You can read more about my record on Equal Rights here.