Civil Rights for All
I believe that our children deserve to be loved and encouraged regardless of their gender, ethnicity, faith, sexuality, level of income, or immigration status. We all deserve that. As human beings, we are born with inherent dignity and worth, but there are societal roadblocks that keep many of us from achieving all that we are capable of in our pursuit of liberty and happiness. I support all efforts to tear down these barriers.
Police and Criminal Justice Reform
Police reform is a hot-button issue right now. Many of us know police officers whom we respect and love. My own cousin serves on the Fayetteville PD in Arkansas and he is a model husband, father and citizen. When unnecessary violence is used against a citizen, or an officer abuses his or her power, the reaction must be swift. We can and must respect our police force while encouraging policies that will keep them in the job of serving and protecting all people in their care. Officers who disgrace their uniform with prejudiced or violent actions should be dealt with swiftly, removed from positions of power, and tried in the court of law for their actions. Officers who do their jobs with dignity and who respect those that they serve should be encouraged and held up as models. We need to focus on improving the things that are right in our police departments and eliminating those that disenfranchise and harm citizens..
Our prisons are overcrowded with people with nonviolent offenders who couldn’t afford a good attorney. When our prison population has an overrepresentation of poor and minority inmates, there is an obvious disenfranchisement of their rights as American citizens. When a person who is able to afford good counsel for a nonviolent crime goes through our justice system, they maintain their ability to pursue a better life for themselves and their families. When a person of limited financial resources goes through our justice system, they are appointed an overworked public defender and are more likely to be incarcerated. I have taught students with incarcerated parents. I see the toll it takes on their families and their ability to participate in the American Dream. A justice system that has different outcomes for the wealthy and the poor is a justice system that is not worthy of our great nation.
Perpetrators of nonviolent and drug offenses account for 81% of new inmates. Too much of our state’s time and treasure is spent on marijuana offenses. Our police officers and justice system should be focused on violent crime offenses. When twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana in some form, the nation should take notice that its people are tired of seeing fellow citizens arrested for a drug that has medical benefits for seizures, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, stroke victims, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, arthritis, lupus, and chronic pain. VA doctors are able to discuss medical marijuana as a treatment option for our vets. We are willing to let those who have served and protected our nation’s freedoms have the relief provided by marijuana, and we should extend that option to all Americans.
I will always stand with my LGBTQIA brothers, sisters, and siblings. As a cosponsor of my school’s LGBTQ+ club, I seek to help all students feel welcome and valued. I believe that every person is born with inherent dignity and worth, and my faith tells me that every individual deserves to be loved and have equal rights and access to the benefits afforded to us by our God and our country. I stand opposed to any law or policy that seeks to strip rights and dignity from any of God’s children.
I am thankful to be a member of a church that not only supports but welcomes people of all expressions of gender and sexuality, and my dearest wish is that the love and freedom found in my congregation can be extended to all citizens of our country. Our country’s Declaration of Independence begins with the premise that all people are created equal by their Creator, and I will fight to make sure that our laws support every citizen in the Land of the Free.
“Women’s rights are human rights. Human rights are women’s rights.” Women deserve equal pay for equal work. Women deserve to be treated with the same respect as their male counterparts, and women should never have to fear for their jobs when they get pregnant. Women should be free from violence and discrimination. Women should have reproductive autonomy in order to decide if and when they become mothers. Whether women choose to be stay-at-home parents or working parents, their choice should be respected and their rights should be protected.
Securing guaranteed parental and medical leave, mandatory sick days, and quality, affordable childcare will help women and their families to have better access to the American Dream. These benefits should be equally afforded to men as well as women because companies will be less likely to discriminate against female employees when men take advantage of the same benefits. When our country’s policies lift women and families up, more women entrepreneurs will build better businesses, wage gaps will shrink, and the economy will grow.
Women should be free from violence inside and outside of our homes. I will work for laws that believe victims of rape and harassment, that don’t afford husbands more legal protection when they become abusers, and that shut down networks of human trafficking in our country. The Land of the Free should protect the rights of every young girl to have control of her body and should prosecute to the full extent of the law those who seek to abuse her.
The ability to control one’s own body is essential to one’s personal welfare. Reproductive autonomy for women means that women get to decide when or if to start a family. When women are able to have unfettered access to birth control, they can make sure they are in the ideal financial and emotional situations to start a family. In order to dramatically decrease the rate of unwanted pregnancies and abortions, women must have free and easy access to birth control. Reproductive autonomy is good not only for women but for the children who are more likely to be born in stable and loving homes.