Robert Menendez on Civil Rights
Democratic Jr Senator; previously Representative (NJ-13)
Evolved from supporting DOMA to supporting same-sex marriage
Menendez said although he supported the Defense of Marriage Act in the House in the 1990s, which restricted the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, he now favored it.
Kyrillos, who has voted against
same-sex marriage twice in the state Senate, jumped on Menendez for changing his mind and said he wanted to "motivate civil unions," legislation he voted against in 2006.
Source: Newark Star-Ledger on 2012 N.J. Senate debate
, Oct 10, 2012
Support affirmative action in all government contracts
Q: Should the government should take greater account of affirmative action considerations in awarding its contracts?
KEAN: I support merit-based initiatives that recognize the value of diversity and believe we need to ban pay-to-play, which
discriminates against minority access to government programs.
MENENDEZ: The federal government has a responsibility to ensure that all businesses have an equal opportunity to compete for contracts - including small, minority and women-owned businesses.
Source: Hall Institute N.J. Senate Virtual Debate (X-ref Kean)
, Sep 24, 2006
Supports Amendment banning flag-burning, a uniting symbol
Q: Do you support a constitutional amendment to prevent the burning of the American flag?
KEAN: I believe our flag is a sacred symbol, a monument to freedom and I support a Constitutional Amendment banning the desecration of the American flag.
MENENDEZ: I voted for the flag burning amendment because I believe the flag, as a uniting symbol of our country, should be protected.
Source: Hall Institute N.J. Senate Virtual Debate (X-ref Kean)
, Sep 24, 2006
Supports 1-man-1-woman marriage, but don’t take away rights
Q: Do you believe that same sex marriages should be legal?
KEAN: I believe marriage is between one man and one woman but do not support a federal constitutional amendment.
MENENDEZ: I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, but oppose a federal constitutional amendment. The constitution shouldn’t be amended to take away rights.
Source: Hall Institute N.J. Senate Virtual Debate (X-ref Kean)
, Sep 24, 2006
Voted YES on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.
Amends the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) to add or expand definitions of several terms used in such Act, including :
- "culturally specific services" to mean community-based services that offer culturally relevant and linguistically specific services and resources to culturally specific communities;
- "personally identifying information" with respect to a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
- "underserved populations" as populations that face barriers in accessing and using victim services because of geographic location, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity; and
- "youth" to mean a person who is 11 to 24 years old.
Opponent's Argument for voting No (The Week; Huffington Post, and The Atlantic):
House Republicans had objected to provisions in the Senate bill that extended VAWA's protections to lesbians, gays, immigrants, and Native Americans. For example, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) voted against the VAWA bill because it was a "politically–motivated, constitutionally-dubious Senate version bent on dividing women into categories by race, transgender politics and sexual preference." The objections can be grouped in two broadly ideological areas--that the law is an unnecessary overreach by the federal government, and that it represents a "feminist" attack on family values. The act's grants have encouraged states to implement "mandatory-arrest" policies, under which police responding to domestic-violence calls are required to make an arrest. These policies were intended to combat the too-common situation in which a victim is intimidated into recanting an abuse accusation. Critics also say VAWA has been subject to waste, fraud, and abuse because of insufficient oversight.
Reference: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act;
Bill S. 47
; vote number 13-SV019
on Feb 12, 2013
Voted YES on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration.
The Senate voted on a resolution which would recommend a Constitutional Amendment banning flag desecration (not a vote on the Amendment itself). The resolution states:
- the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity...
- the Bill of Rights should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom...
- abuse of the flag causes more than pain and distress... and may amount to fighting words...
- destruction of the flag of the US can be intended to incite a violent response rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment to the Constitution.
Proponents of the Resolution say:
- Fifty State legislatures have called on us to pass this amendment. This amendment simply says that "Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."
- In other words, in passing this amendment, we would give to
Congress the power that the Supreme Court took away in 1989.
- 48 States had anti-desecration measures on the books before 1989. It was then that five unelected judges told those 48 sovereign entities that they were wrong.
Opponents of the Resolution say:
Reference: Flag Desecration Amendment;
; vote number 2006-189
on Jun 27, 2006
- I am deeply offended when people burn or otherwise abuse this precious national symbol.
- I also believe that the values and beliefs that the American flag represents are more important than the cloth from which this symbol was created.
- Prominent among these beliefs are the right to voice views that are unpopular, and the right to protest.
- I oppose this amendment not because I condone desecration of our flag, but because I celebrate the values our flag represents. Flag burning is despicable. However, the issue is whether we should amend our great charter document, the Constitution, to proscribe it.
- Is this a problem needing such strong medicine? Are we facing an epidemic of flag burnings?
Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.
Voting YES implies support for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. This cloture motion to end debate requires a 3/5th majority. A constitutional amendment requires a 2/3rd majority. The proposed amendment is:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment;
Bill S. J. Res. 1
; vote number 2006-163
on Jun 7, 2006
Voted NO on making the PATRIOT Act permanent.
To extend and modify authorities needed to combat terrorism, and for other purposes, including:
Reference: USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act;
Bill HR 3199
; vote number 2005-627
on Dec 14, 2005
- Assigning three judges to hear individuals' petitions concerning improper requests by the FBI for library circulation records, library patron lists, book sales records, book customer lists, and other records
- Reporting every year the number of library records orders that are granted, modified, or denied
- Allows Internet service providers to disclose their subscribers information and the contents of their communications to a government entity, if they believe there is “immediate danger of death or serious physical injury”
- Requires that any court that allows a “roving wiretap” under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) must describe in great detail the intended target whose identity is not known
- Allows individuals and businesses to seek legal counsel if they have received a National Security Letter from the FBI requiring them to disclose financial information and records
Voted NO on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Pledge Protection Act: Amends the Federal judicial code to deny jurisdiction to any Federal court, and appellate jurisdiction to the Supreme Court, to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of the Pledge of Allegiance or its validity under the Constitution.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep Todd Akin [R, MO-2];
; vote number 2004-467
on Sep 23, 2004
Voted YES on constitutional amendment prohibiting flag desecration.
Desecration of Flag resolution: Vote to pass the joint resolution to put forward a Constitutional amendment to state that Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States. Note: A two-thirds majority vote of those present and voting (284 in this case) is required to pass a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution.
Reference: Resolution sponsored by Thomas, R-CA;
; vote number 2003-234
on Jun 3, 2003
Voted NO on banning gay adoptions in DC.
Vote on an amendment banning adoptions in District of Columbia by gays or other individuals who are not related by blood or marriage.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Largent, R-OK;
Bill HR 2587
; vote number 1999-346
on Jul 29, 1999
Voted NO on ending preferential treatment by race in college admissions.
HR 6, the Higher Education Amendments Act of 1997, would prohibit any post-secondary institution that participates in any program under the Higher Education Act from discriminating or granting any preferential treatment in admission based on race, sex, ethnicity, color or national origin.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Riggs, R-CA.;
Bill HR 6
; vote number 1998-133
on May 6, 1998
Supports anti-flag desecration amendment.
Menendez co-sponsored a Constitutional Amendment:
Supports granting Congress power to prohibit the physical desecration of the U.S. flag. Proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing the Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HJR36 on Mar 13, 2001
Constitutional Amendment for equal rights by gender.
Menendez co-sponsored a Constitutional Amendment:
Title: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women. Summary: States that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HJR40 on Mar 22, 2001
Rated 67% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record.
Menendez scores 67% by the ACLU on civil rights issues
The mission of the ACLU is to preserve protections and guarantees America’s original civic values - the Constitution and the Bill of Rights:
We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.
- Your First Amendment rights-freedom of speech, association and assembly. Freedom of the press, and freedom of religion supported by the strict separation of church and state.
- Your right to equal protection under the law - equal treatment regardless of race, sex, religion or national origin.
- Your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.Your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.
Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: ACLU website 02n-ACLU on Dec 31, 2002
Rated 88% by the HRC, indicating a pro-gay-rights stance.
Menendez scores 88% by the HRC on gay rights
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 HRC scores as follows:
About the HRC (from their website, www.hrc.org):
- 0% - 20%: opposes gay rights (approx. 207 members)
- 20% - 70%: mixed record on gay rights (approx. 84 members)
- 70%-100%: supports gay rights (approx. 177 members)
The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where GLBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
Ever since its founding in 1980, HRC has led the way in promoting fairness for GLBT Americans. HRC is a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.
Source: HRC website 06n-HRC on Dec 31, 2006
Recognize Juneteenth as historical end of slavery.
Menendez co-sponsored recognizing Juneteenth as historical end of slavery
A resolution recognizing the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day and expressing that history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future.
Recognizes the historical significance to the nation, and supports the continued celebration, of Juneteenth Independence Day (June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved African Americans were free). Declares the sense of Congress that:
Legislative Outcome: House versions are H.CON.RES.155 and H.RES.1237; related Senate resolution S.RES.584 counts for sponsorship. Resolution agreed to in Senate, by Unanimous Consent.
Source: S.RES.584 08-SR584 on Jun 4, 2008
- history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future; and
- the celebration of the end of slavery is an important and enriching part of the history and heritage of the United States.
ENDA: prohibit employment discrimination for gays.
Menendez signed H.R.3017&S.1584
Prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by covered entities (employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or joint labor-management committees). Prohibits preferential treatment or quotas. Allows only disparate treatment claims. Prohibits related retaliation.
Makes this Act inapplicable to:
Source: Employment Non-Discrimination Act 09-HR3017 on Jun 24, 2009
- religious organizations; and
- the relationship between the United States and members of the Armed Forces.
Prohibit sexual-identity discrimination at schools.
Menendez signed Student Non-Discrimination Act
Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2011:
Source: HR.998&S.555 11-S0555 on Mar 10, 2011
- Prohibits public school students from being excluded from participating in, or subject to discrimination under, any federally-assisted educational program on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or that of their associates.
- Considers harassment to be a form of discrimination.
- Prohibits retaliation against anyone for opposing conduct they reasonably believe to be unlawful under this Act.
- Authorizes federal departments and agencies to enforce these prohibitions by cutting off the educational assistance of recipients found to be violating them.
Allows an aggrieved individual to assert a violation of this Act in a judicial proceeding and recover reasonable attorney's fees should they prevail.
- Deems a state's receipt of federal educational assistance for a program to constitute a waiver of sovereign immunity for conduct prohibited under this Act regarding such program.
Sponsored Constitutional Amendment for women's equal rights.
Menendez sponsored Equal Rights Amendment for men and women
JOINT RESOLUTION: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women. Constitutional Amendment: Prohibits denying or abridging equality of rights under the law by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of 3/4ths of the several States:
- Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
- The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
- This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
[Explanatory note from Wikipedia.com and OnTheIssues.org]:
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and, in 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time. In 1972, it passed both houses of Congress, but failed to gain ratification before its June 30, 1982 deadline. This new proposed amendment is identical in wording to the original 1972 proposed amendment. It was proposed in Congress in every session from 1923 through 1970 prior to passing in 1972; and has been re-introduced in Congress in every session since 1982 after its failure at ratification. The current version removes the Congressionally imposed deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, so that if the bill passes Congress, states have no deadline as they did in 1982.
Source: HJR69&SJR21 11-SJR21 on Jun 22, 2011
Endorsed as "preferred" by The Feminist Majority indicating pro-women's rights.
Menendez is endorsed by by the Feminist Majority on women's rights
The Feminist Majority endorses candidates for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. In addition to the stronger "endorsement," the organization also determines "preferred" candidates in races where they do not endorse. Their mission statement:
"Our mission is to empower feminists, who are the majority, and to win equality for women at the decision-making tables of the state, nation, and the world. The Feminist Majority promotes non-discrimination on the basis of sex, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, ethnicity, age, marital status, nation of origin, size or disability. The purpose of Feminist Majority is to promote equality for women and men, non-violence, reproductive health, peace, social justice and economic development and to enhance feminist participation in public policy. Feminist Majority supports workers’ collective bargaining, pay equity, and end of sweatshops. We encourage programs directed at the preservation of the environment."
Source: FeministMajority.org website 12-FemMaj on Oct 31, 2012
Enforce against wage discrimination based on gender.
Menendez co-sponsored Paycheck Fairness Act
Congress finds the following:
Source: S.84&H.R.377 13-S0084 on Jan 23, 2013
- Women have entered the workforce in record numbers over the past 50 years.
- Despite the enactment of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, many women continue to earn significantly lower pay than men for equal work. These pay disparities exist in both the private and governmental sectors. In many instances, the pay disparities can only be due to continued intentional discrimination or the lingering effects of past discrimination.
- The existence of such pay disparities depresses the wages of working families who rely on the wages of all members of the family to make ends meet; and undermines women's retirement security.
- Artificial barriers to the elimination of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex continue to exist decades after the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. These barriers have resulted because the Equal Pay Act has not worked as Congress originally intended.
The Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have important and unique responsibilities to help ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work.
- The Department of Labor is responsible for investigating and prosecuting equal pay violations, especially systemic violations, and in enforcing all of its mandates.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the primary enforcement agency for claims made under the Equal Pay Act.
- With a stronger commitment [to enforcement], increased information on wage data and more effective remedies, women will be better able to recognize and enforce their rights.
- Certain employers have already made great strides in eradicating unfair pay disparities in the workplace and their achievements should be recognized.
Let states recognize same sex marriage.
Menendez signed Respect for Marriage Act
Congressional Summary: Amends the Defense of Marriage Act to let states recognize same sex marriage. Defines "marriage" to provide that an individual shall be considered married if that individual's marriage is valid in the state or country where the marriage was entered into. Removes the definition of "spouse" (currently, a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife).
Wikipedia and GLAAD history: In United States v. Windsor (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court declared Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) struck down the act's provisions disallowing same-sex marriages to be performed under federal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court case did not challenge Section 2 of DOMA. Section 2 declares that all states have the right to deny recognition of the marriage of same sex couples that originated in states where they are legally recognized.
recommendation to vote NO: (3/20/2013): Americans respect marriage, not only as a crucial institution of civil society but the fundamental building block of all human civilization. This is why 41 states and the federal government affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman. The government isn't in the business of affirming our loves. Rather it leaves consenting adults free to live and love as they choose. And contrary to what some say, there is no ban on same-sex marriage. In all 50 states, two people of the same sex may choose to live together, and choose to join a religious community that blesses their relationship. What's at issue is whether the government will recognize such relationships as marriages--and compel others to recognize and affirm same-sex relationships as marriages.
Legislative outcome: Died in Committee (never came to a vote).
Source: S.29 & H.197 17-S0029 on Jan 6, 2015
Re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment.
Menendez co-sponsored re-introducing the Equal Rights Amendment
A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women, which shall be part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of 3/4 of the States:Sen. KENNEDY. "It's a privilege to join my colleagues in reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. The ERA is essential to guarantee that the freedoms protected by our Constitution apply equally to men and women. From the beginning of our history as a Nation, women have had to wage a constant, long and difficult battle to win the same basic rights granted to men. That battle goes on
today, since discrimination still continues in many ways.
- Section 1.Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
- Section 2.The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
- Section 3.This article shall take effect 2 years after the date of ratification.
"Despite passage of the Equal Pay Act & the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, discrimination against women continues to permeate the workforce and many areas of the economy. Today, women earn about 77 cents for each dollar earned by men, and the gap is even greater for women of color. More than 60% of working women are still clustered in a narrow range of traditionally female, traditionally low-paying occupations, and female-headed households continue to dominate the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
"A stronger effort is clearly needed to finally live up to our commitment of full equality. The ERA alone cannot remedy all discrimination, but it will clearly strengthen the ongoing efforts of women across the country to obtain equal treatment.
"We know from the failed ratification experiences of the past that amending the Constitution to include the ERA will not be easy to achieve. But the women of America deserve no less."
Source: Equal Rights Amendment (S.J.RES.10/H.J.RES.40) 2007-SJR10 on Mar 29, 2007
Reinforce anti-discrimination and equal-pay requirements.
Menendez co-sponsored reinforcing anti-discrimination and equal-pay requirements
A bill to restore, reaffirm, and reconcile legal rights and remedies under civil rights statutes. Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for:
- establishing discrimination based on disparate impact; and
- rights of action and recovery for unlawful discrimination.
Source: Civil Rights Act of 2008 (S.2554&H.R.5129) 2008-S2554 on Jan 24, 2008
- Authorizes civil actions in federal court for discrimination based on disability.
- Repeals provisions limiting the amount of compensatory and punitive damages that may be awarded in cases of intentional discrimination in employment.
- Revises provisions governing discrimination in the payment of wages, including equal pay requirements.
Honor the 100th anniversary of the NAACP.
Menendez signed bill honoring the 100th anniversary of the NAACP
- Whereas the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, originally known as the National Negro Committee, was founded in New York City on February 12, 1909, the centennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, by a multiracial group of activists who met in a national conference to discuss the civil and political rights of African-Americans;
- Whereas the NAACP is the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States;
- Whereas the mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination;
- Whereas the NAACP is committed to achieving its goals through nonviolence;
Whereas the NAACP advances its mission through reliance upon the press, the petition, the ballot, and the courts, and has been persistent in the use of legal and moral persuasion, even in the face of overt and violent racial hostility;
- Whereas the NAACP has used political pressure, marches, demonstrations, and effective lobbying to serve as the voice, as well as the shield, for minority Americans;
Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Congress
Source: SCR.3&HCR.35 2009-SCR3 on Jan 28, 2009
- Recognizes the 100th anniversary of the historic founding of the NAACP.
- Honors and praises the NAACP on the occasion of its anniversary for its work to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all persons.
Page last updated: Sep 04, 2017