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Civil Rights and Equality

Rep. Chu participated in the "NoH8" campaign to show her support for the LGBT community.

When the civil liberties of any group are violated, we all suffer. We must protect the ideals of justice and equal protection under the law so that our country is one where all people are treated equal.

Discrimination is still an issue in this country. Our civil rights were earned by the blood, sweat and tears of those who came before us. I believe that all Americans deserve to have their rights protected and enforced. History has shown time and time again that systematic discrimination against any group of Americans is a threat to the freedom of all Americans.  Congress must work to end all forms of government sanctioned discrimination, so every American can be treated equally.

That is why I am working to combat discrimination and to strengthen the protection of civil rights for all people.

Standing up Against Racial and Ethnic Profiling

I understand how harmful racial and ethnic profiling is to American society.  From the Japanese Internment, to post 9/11 profiling of Arabs, Sikhs, Muslims and South Asians to immigration enforcement laws like Arizona’s SB1070 profiling fundamentally damages the fabric of our society. I have been working actively to end this hurtful and ineffective practice.

Supporting the End Racial Profiling Act (H.R. 2851). I am a cosponsor of the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) to prohibit law enforcement agencies from engaging in racial profiling. Racial profiling occurs when race, ethnicity, national origin, gender or religion is used in choosing which individuals to investigate.
Standing up against post 9/11 profiling. When I learned that the New York Police Department (NYPD) was spying and collecting information on Muslim Americans, I led a letter, with thirty-three other Members of Congress, asking the Department of Justice to investigate the situation. I have also been working to ensure that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is not racially profiling people when they pass through airport security.  Also I have consistently stood up in Congress against hearings and investigations that unjustly single out the Muslim community.
Fighting to Expand the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Profiling Guidance. The DOJ’s racial profiling guidance—issued in 2003 and still unrevised—is need of major changes. The guidance bars federal agents from conducting investigations based on a suspect’s race, but lacks a prohibition on profiling based on religion or national origin, which has become increasingly prevalent since 9/11. I have consistently urged Attorney General Holder in hearings before the House Judiciary Committee to update this guidance. As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I also led a letter (link to letter) with the Chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, urging the DOJ to make meaningful changes to the guidance and eliminate the current loopholes for national and border security.

Protecting the Voting Rights of All Americans
The right to vote is one of our most sacred rights and is fundamental to American democracy.  Unfortunately since 2011, there has been a concerted effort by state legislatures to pass laws that suppress the voting rights of Americans (over 160 laws have been introduced). These measures have made it harder for millions of Americans to vote – especially the elderly, our youth, the disabled and minorities.

For more than 40 years, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) has been one of our best tools for combating discrimination—particularly in places with a history of discrimination. However, in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court significantly weakened the VRA in its decision in Shelby County v. Holder by striking down the formula used in the VRA to determine which states and local governments would need to obtain court approval before changing their voting laws or practices. Although the VRA was designed to prevent abusive practices in areas that had a history of voting discrimination, the Court held that the formula was implemented based on data that was too old. Without new legislation to undo the damage done by Shelby, minority communities are now at risk of being disenfranchised.

Restoring the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA). I am a co-sponsor of the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (H.R.3899), a bipartisan bill which modernizes the VRA to address current circumstances. The bill would work to prevent discrimination on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, and would also require public notice and transparency regarding any changes to: (1) voting prerequisites, standards, or procedures; (2) polling place resources; or (3) demographics and electoral districts.
Supporting the Voter Empowerment Act. The Voter Empowerment Act (VEA) seeks not only to protect the right to vote but also helps ensure that all Americans have equal access to the ballot box. The VEA seeks to assist voters with disabilities, modernize the voting and registration process, ensure all votes are counted, create a national voter hotline and a range of other protections.

Protecting Democracy for All Americans
American democracy has been centered on the fundamental principle of one person, one vote and the notion that we all have an equal voice and say over government decisions that affect our lives and our nation. However, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010 eroded this principle by allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on American elections. The decision has very dangerous implications for the rights of Americans, as corporations are now able to make unlimited campaign donations without disclosing who they are.  In 2014, the Supreme Court further expanded the influence of money in politics, in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which invalidated aggregate limits on how much a single donor could spend per an election cycle, making it easier for the very the wealthy to influence elections.

I am working to ensure every American has an equal voice in our elections by:

Overturning endless political spending under Citizens United. I am a cosponsor of the Democracy for All Amendment (H.Res. 119) which would amend the U.S. Constitution to reverse the effects of Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions, and limit the ability of corporations and the wealthiest donors to buy unlimited influence in our elections. This constitutional amendment would allow Congress and the States to regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.
Fighting for open and transparent campaign funding. I am a co-sponsor of the Disclosure of Information on Spending on Campaigns Leads to Open and Secure Elections Act of 2013 (DISCLOSE Act ), H.R. 148, to require political advertisements to disclose their major donors the American people know which corporate interests are funding candidates.  I am working to amplify the voices of all Americans in elections and am a cosponsor of the Government by the People Act of (H.R. 20), which amends the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to allow a refundable credit of 50% of qualified congressional House campaign contributions paid or incurred during the taxable year. This bill encourages candidates for public office to run on smaller donations for individuals thus giving average American a greater voice in elections.

Supporting Equal Rights for Women
Though we have made progress in women’s rights, we still have a ways to go before women are treated as true equals to men.  Women still face discrimination in all facets of life including paying more for healthcare, only making 77 cents to a dollar compared to men and many other basic rights. I have been working hard to address this very important issue.

Supporting the Equal Rights Amendment. I am a cosponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment, H.J. Res.69. This constitutional amendment prohibits denying equal rights to men and women.
Pushing for fair pay. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law yet there are many more steps that must be taken to ensure women get paid equal to men. This is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1519, the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to help ensure there is no sex discrimination in the payment of wages.

Fighting for Marriage Equality for All Americans
I am a fierce supporter of same-sex marriage.  As a proud cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 1116) in the last Congress, I worked to revoke the hurtful and discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and was elated when the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, struck down DOMA as unconstitutional and in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The Court held that the Constitution prevented the federal government from treating state-sanctioned heterosexual marriages differently than state-sanctioned same-sex marriages. However, the fight for marriage equality is not over, as it’s still up to each state to determine whether they recognize same-sex marriages.

Since, the historic Windsor victory, I have been working hard to ensure fair implementation by federal agencies to ensure same-sex couples receive the same federal benefits as their counterparts

Fighting to ensure same-sex couples receive federal benefits  Even though same-sex couples can now receive federal benefits, they are generally only eligible to receive benefits if they live in a state that recognizes the validity of their union. With marriage equality being recognized in a growing number of states, many same-sex couples may not be aware that they are now eligible for benefits that may have accrued before their state legalized same-sex marriage. That’s why I joined a letter to the Social Security Administration (SSA), urging SSA to take steps to ensure that same-sex couples receive the social security spousal benefits that they have earned and are now eligible to receive because their state recognizes marriage equality.

Prohibiting Workplace Discrimination
I have long been a champion for workers’ rights, and LGBT employees are no exception.  As a cosponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA, or H.R. 1397), I am working to end the legal discrimination against LGBT employees across the country. If passed by Congress, this legislation would:

End legal discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is still legal in 29 states; discrimination based on gender identity is legal in 38 states.  This bill would protect all Americans from this type of injustice.
Extend basic civil rights protections to LGBT Americans. The bill prohibits employers, employment agencies and labor unions from using an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for employment decisions like hiring, firing, promotion or compensation.  In other words, the bill is extending federal employment protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers similar to those protections already provided to persons based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.

On July 21, 2014, President took a major step forward in ensuring workplace equality for LGBT employees, when he signed an Executive
 Order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Now millions of workers across the nation will be protected the threat of discrimination based on their sexual orientation, but legislation is still needed to ban such discrimination nationwide.

More on Civil Rights and Equality

September 24, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, following the first congressional hearing on President Trump’s Muslim ban, Representative Judy Chu (CA-27) and U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) urged Congress to take action on the NO BAN Act, legislation they introduced to immediately end the President’s Muslim ban and prevent another baseless, discriminatory ban from happening again. The hearing was jointly convened by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship and the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

July 24, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC — Today, the House of Representatives unanimously approved of H.R. 3299, the Promoting Respect for Individuals’ Dignity and Equality (PRIDE) Act of 2019, introduced by Representatives Judy Chu (CA-27) and Andy Levin (MI-09). The PRIDE Act would remove gendered language like “husband” and “wife” from the tax code to accommodate same sex couples.

July 3, 2019 Press Release

Today the Trump Administration announced that it would move forward with printing the 2020 census without a citizenship question. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) released the following statement: 

June 18, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC — Today, Representative Judy Chu (CA-27) and Andy Levin (MI-09) introduced H.R. 3299, the Promoting Respect for Individuals’ Dignity and Equality (PRIDE) Act of 2019. The PRIDE Act, which is scheduled to be marked up by the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, June 20 at 9:30 AM, includes language from H.R. 1244, the Equal Dignity for Married Taxpayers Act, that would remove gendered language like “husband” and “wife” from the tax code to accommodate same sex couples. Instead, tax filings will use “spouses” and “married couple.”

June 14, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC — Today, Representative Judy Chu (CA-27) led her Ways and Means Democratic colleagues in introducing the Refund Equality Act. For years, same-sex couples in states that recognized legal marriage were wrongfully denied tax refunds they earned because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) did not allow them to file federal taxes jointly. That law was overturned in 2013 by the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v.

May 17, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC — The House of Representatives today voted to pass H.R. 5, the Equality Act, which updates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other statutes to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, public education, access to credit, jury service, federal funding, housing, and public accommodations. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), Vice-Chair of the House LGBT Equality Caucus, issued the following statement:

March 13, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) joined Rep. David Cicilline (RI-01) and 237 other cosponsors to introduce the Equality Act. The Equality Act amends existing federal laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit and Opportunity Act, and the Jury Selection Act to create a single national prohibition on discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodation, education, and more.

February 14, 2019 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – In celebration of love on Valentine’s Day, in affirmation of the LGBTQ community and to advance America’s march towards equal protection and inclusion under the law, Reps. Judy Chu (CA-27) and Andy Levin (MI-09) introduced the Equal Dignity for Married Taxpayers Act, a bill that would update the U.S. tax code to remove gendered language and affirm the dignity of LGBTQ married couples. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) will introduce the Senate version as Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee.

January 29, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC —Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) have each introduced companion bills in the House and Senate to block the implementation of President Trump’s executive order blocking travel from majority Muslim countries. The bills, H.R. 810 and S. 246, would prohibit the use of any funds or fees to implement Executive Order 13780, signed on March 6, 2017. Rep. Chu and Sen. Murphy, along with House and Senate original cosponsors Rep.

October 30, 2018 Press Release

Washington, DC — Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) issued the following statement on President Trump’s plan to use an executive order to end the 14th Amendment’s promise of birthright citizenship:

“With one statement, Donald Trump displayed the bigotry and the ignorance that have made his presidency so dangerous.