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Michael Capuano on Civil Rights

Democratic Representative (MA-8)


Funding to help women who are raped as a weapon of war

Source: 2010 Senate campaign website, www.mikecapuano.com, "About" , Oct 1, 2009

Voted YES on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

Congressional Summary:
    Amends the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) to add or expand definitions of several terms used in such Act, including :
  1. "culturally specific services" to mean community-based services that offer culturally relevant and linguistically specific services and resources to culturally specific communities;
  2. "personally identifying information" with respect to a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
  3. "underserved populations" as populations that face barriers in accessing and using victim services because of geographic location, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity; and
  4. "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 H.R.11 ; vote number 13-HV055 on Feb 28, 2013

Voted YES on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation.

HR3685: Employment Non-Discrimination Act: Makes it an unlawful employment practice to discriminate against an individual on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, including actions based on the actual or perceived sexual orientation of a person with whom the individual associates or has associated. Prohibits preferential treatment or quotas. Allows only disparate treatment claims. Inapplicable to associations that are exempt from religious discrimination provisions.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. CASTOR: The march towards equality under the law for all of our citizens has sometimes been slow, but it has been steady. Over time, Congress has outlawed discrimination in the workplace, based upon a person's race, gender, age, national origin, religion and disability, because when it comes to employment, these decisions are rightly based upon a person's qualifications and job performance. This legislation that outlaws job discrimination based upon sexual orientation was first introduced over 30 years ago. A broad coalition of businesses and community organizations strongly support this landmark civil rights legislation, including the Human Rights Campaign; the Anti-Defamation League; and the NAACP.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. HASTINGS: Federal law bans job discrimination based on race, color, national origin, or gender. In addition, 19 States have passed laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. I strongly oppose discrimination in the workplace. However, I do not think it is the place of the Federal Government to legislate how each and every workplace operates. A number of States have enacted State laws in this area. That is their right. Many businesses have chosen to adopt their own policies. That is appropriate as well. This bill as written would expand Federal law into a realm where PERCEPTION would be a measure under discrimination law [which I consider inappropriate].

Reference: Employment Non-Discrimination Act; Bill HR3685 ; vote number 2007-1057 on Nov 13, 2007

Voted NO on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman.

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution stating: "Marriage in the US 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."

Proponents support voting YES because:

The overwhelming majority of the American people support traditional marriage, marriage between a man and a woman. The people have a right to know whether their elected Representatives agree with them about protecting traditional marriage.

Every child deserves both a father and a mother. Studies demonstrate the utmost importance of the presence of a child's biological parents in a child's happiness, health and future achievements. If we chip away at the institution which binds these parents and the family together, the institution of marriage, you begin to chip away at the future success of that child.

Opponents support voting NO because:

This amendment does not belong in our Constitution. It is unworthy of our great Nation. We have amended the Constitution only 27 times. Constitutional amendments have always been used to enhance and expand the rights of citizens, not to restrict them. Now we are being asked to amend the Constitution again, to single out a single group and to say to them for all time, you cannot even attempt to win the right to marry.

From what precisely would this amendment protect marriage? From divorce? From adultery? No. Evidently, the threat to marriage is the fact that there are millions of people in this country who very much believe in marriage, who very much want to marry but who are not permitted to marry. I believe firmly that in the not-too-distant future people will look back on these debates with the incredulity with which we now view the segregationist debates of years past.

Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment; Bill H J RES 88 ; vote number 2006-378 on Jul 18, 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

Voted NO on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Marriage Protection Amendment - Declares that marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Prohibits the Constitution or any State constitution from being construed to require that marital status or its legal incidents be conferred upon any union other than that of a man and a woman.
Reference: Constitutional Amendment sponsored by Rep Musgrave [R, CO-4]; Bill H.J.RES.106 ; vote number 2004-484 on Sep 30, 2004

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]; Bill H.R.2028 ; vote number 2004-467 on Sep 23, 2004

Voted NO 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; Bill HJRes.4 ; 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

Constitutional Amendment for equal rights by gender.

Capuano 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 93% by the ACLU, indicating a pro-civil rights voting record.

Capuano scores 93% by the ACLU on civil rights issues

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.

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 100% by the HRC, indicating a pro-gay-rights stance.

Capuano scores 100% 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):

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

Rated 97% by the NAACP, indicating a pro-affirmative-action stance.

Capuano scores 97% by the NAACP on affirmative action

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 NAACP scores as follows:

About the NAACP (from their website, www.naacp.org):

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has worked over the years to support and promote our country's civil rights agenda. Since its founding in 1909, the NAACP has worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination while also ensuring the political, social, and economic equality of all people. The Association will continue this mission through its policy initiatives and advocacy programs at the local, state, and national levels. From the ballot box to the classroom, the dedicated workers, organizers, and leaders who forged this great organization and maintain its status as a champion of social justice, fought long and hard to ensure that the voices of African Americans would be heard. For nearly one hundred years, it has been the talent and tenacity of NAACP members that has saved lives and changed many negative aspects of American society.

Source: NAACP website 06n-NAACP on Dec 31, 2006

ENDA: prohibit employment discrimination for gays.

Capuano 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:
  1. religious organizations; and
  2. the relationship between the United States and members of the Armed Forces.
Source: Employment Non-Discrimination Act 09-HR3017 on Jun 24, 2009

Constitutional Amendment for women's equal rights.

Capuano signed 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:
  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.
  2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
  3. 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-HJR69 on Jun 22, 2011

Prohibit sexual-identity discrimination at schools.

Capuano signed Student Non-Discrimination Act

Source: HR.998&S.555 11-HR0998 on Mar 10, 2011

Ratify CEDAW (Discrimination Against Women).

Capuano co-sponsored Resolution on CEDAW

RESOLUTION Expressing that the Senate should ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

    Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that--
  1. the full realization of the rights of women is vital to the development and well-being of people of all nations; and
  2. the Senate should, therefore, give its advice and consent to the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Source: H.RES.20 11-HRes20 on Jan 5, 2011

Enforce against anti-gay discrimination in public schools.

Capuano co-sponsored Student Non-Discrimination Act

Congressional Summary: