Beto O`Rourke on Civil Rights
Democratic candidate for President; Texas Senator nominee
O'ROURKE: It should be illegal. As president we will seek to outlaw it everywhere in this country. In my opinion, this is tantamount to torture, a torture that we're visiting on children who are absolutely defenseless.
Q: What should the penalty be?
O'ROURKE: We're going to make sure that whatever the penalty is, it is steep enough to dissuade anybody from entering into this practice or being able to torture kids with the kind of impunity that we have seen so far. And we're also going to recognize that these kind of practices, in addition to the immediate torture that that child or that person feels, also adds to other challenges that we have. So, yes, we will outlaw it, and, yes, we will ensure that there are penalties stiff enough, enforcement vigorous enough to make sure that it does not continue.
We have to be able to answer this challenge. It is found in our education system, where in Texas, a 5-year-old child in kindergarten is five times as likely to be disciplined or suspended or expelled based on the color of their skin. In our health care system, where there's a maternal mortality crisis three times as deadly for women of color, or the fact that there's 10 times the wealth in white America than there is in black America. I'm going to follow Sheila Jackson Lee's lead and sign into law a reparations bill that will allow us to address this at its foundation.
O'ROURKE: I want to acknowledge something what we're all touching on, which is the very foundation of this country, the wealth that we have built, was literally on the backs of those who were kidnapped and brought here by force. The legacy of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow and suppression is alive and well in every aspect of the economy and in the country. As president, I will sign into law a new Voting Rights Act. I will focus on education, address health care disparities, but I will also sign into law Sheila Jackson Lee's reparations bill so that we can have the national conversation we've waited too long in this country to have.
O'ROURKE: We'll call his racism out for what it is, and also talk about its consequences. It is changing this country. Hate crimes are in the rise--every single one of the last three years. We must ensure that we don't just tolerate or respect our differences, but we embrace them. That's what we've learned in El Paso, my hometown. One of the safest cities in the US, not despite, but because it's a city of immigrants & asylum seekers & refugees.
O'ROURKE: If there are no consequences, then we will have set the precedent that it is OK to accept help from a foreign government. Impeachment is incredibly important to get to the facts, but also to send the signal that this can never happen again. It's the only way that we're going to be able to meet the challenges that we face. It's the only way that we're going to be able to maintain our system of government.
O'Rourke gave an extemporaneous monologue defending black N.F.L. players who took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality. Now This News packaged it into a viral video, and it rocketed O'Rourke to the national stage. CNN broadcast one of his town-hall meetings and O'Rourke's crowds ballooned. Donor contributions poured in, peaking at $80 million, the most for any Senate campaign in U.S. history. The expanding press pack became more aggressive "to the point where they were knocking the kids and I out of the way to get to Beto," recalls Amy O'Rourke.
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.
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."
Opponent's argument against bill:(by Cato Institute reported on Fox News): A bill in Congress that would prohibit discrimination in public schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity could stifle free speech and even lead to "homosexual indoctrination" in the nation's classrooms, critics say.
"The real danger is how this will be interpreted," said the associate director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute. "The definition of harassment could be broadly interpreted that anybody who expressed a totally legitimate opinion about homosexual behavior could be made illegal. That's a violation of those kids who want to express opposition to LGBT opinions or behavior. People have a legitimate reason to be concerned about this--not because they're 'haters' but because you're now trying to balance different rights."
Proponent's argument for bill: (Rep. Jared POLIS, House sponsor): "Hatred has no place in the classroom. Every student has the right to an education free from harassment and violence. This bill will protect the freedoms of our students and enshrine the values of equality and opportunity in the classroom."
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.
Heritage Foundation 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).
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2020 Withdrawn Democratic Candidates:
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Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen.Mike Gravel (D-AK)
Sen.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Gov.John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Gov.Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Rep.Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Rep.Beto O`Rourke (D-TX)
Rep.Tim Ryan (D-CA)
Adm.Joe Sestak (D-PA)
Rep.Eric Swalwell (D-CA)