Equality and human rights must be guaranteed to every American citizen -- no matter their race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Ensuring equal rights for women both in this country and abroad is essential to the continued development of our nation and well being of people throughout the world. Despite much progress over the last century, women still do not get paid as much as men for the same jobs, they are too often victims of domestic and sexual violence, and women are not guaranteed equal rights even in our Constitution. Across the world, there are too many places where women are denied the right to vote, mothers are not permitted to work, and girls are barred from the classroom. Here at home, our criminal justice system must do more to end the epidemic of violence against women. As a Member of Congress and father of two daughters, I work hard to ensure that women are provided equality of pay and opportunity.
I have also long been an outspoken supporter of equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered Americans. I strongly believe that all citizens have the right to live their daily lives free from unwarranted government intrusion. LGBT Americans should have the same rights as all American citizens including the rights to have committed same-sex relationships with the right of marriage and adoption, to share partner health care benefits, to serve openly as a member of our armed forces, and to be protected against hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity. I am so proud that President Obama ended Don't Ask -- Don't Tell and that New York State recently legalized gay marriage. We have a long way to go in this fight for equality, but we have recently made important strides forward.