Jeff Merkley on Civil Rights

Democratic Jr Senator (OR)


Ensure that women earn equal pay for equal work

On April 9, Senate Democrats failed to break a filibuster preventing passage of a bill aimed at ensuring that women receive equal pay for equal work. Republicans said the legislation could actually have a harmful impact on women in the workplace.

What Merkley says: "It's wrong that even today, women in Oregon make just 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, and minority women experience an even greater gap in earnings. I co-sponsored and helped pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure women employees can have their day in court when they are the victims of illegal wage discrimination. I am now fighting to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, the next step we must take to ensure women earn equal pay for equal work."

Wehby's response: "Senator Merkley's approach to this issue is not only wrong, but will only exacerbate the problem of discrimination against women in our economy. A bill like this will encourage job creators to look for labor substitution. I would have voted no."

Source: The Oregonian on 2014 Oregon Senate race , Jul 18, 2014

Co-sponsored Equality & Family Fairness Act for gay equality

Jeff was proud to oversee the passage of several key pieces of legislation that immediately improved the lives of gay and lesbian individuals across the state.
Source: Endorsement letter from National Stonewall Democrats , Sep 18, 2008

Ok to define marriage against polygamy or same-sex

Senator Gordon H. Smith (R-OR) compared homosexual marriage to the persecution of Mormons in the 19th century. “My campaign people will kill me for saying this, but... Part of what I fear as you start defining marriage--we have a long history of doing that in this country, and my Mormon pioneer ancestors were the victims of that. I don’t want that coming back,” said the Republican legislator. Smith supported a federal law defining marriage as “between one man and one woman.” However, he says his Mormon background helps him empathize with victims of discrimination. Gordon says he does not want to create a much bigger problem in the gay and lesbian community. Gordon’s Democratic opponent, Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) campaign released the statement saying that Smith “appears he is defending polygamy and believes it was wrong for the government to establish a definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.”
Source: Campaign Summaries on www.dcpoliticalreport.com , Jun 17, 2008

Oregon Equality Act: sexual orientation is a civil right

Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon: To protect their health, safety and morals from the consequences of intergroup hostility, tensions and practices of discrimination of any kind based on sexual orientation: The Legislative Assembly intends to provide:However, this section shall not be construed to prevent a bona fide church from preferring an employee of one religious sect or persuasion over another.
Source: The Oregon Equality Act (SB 2): state voting records , Dec 31, 2007

Apply affirmative action to state hiring

Q: On affirmative action: Should race, ethnicity or gender be taken into account in state agencies’ decisions on: Public employment?

A: Yes.

Q: State college and university admissions?

A: Yes.

Q: State contracting?

A: Yes. because of sexual orientation;

  • hereby is recognized as and declared to be a civil right.However, this section shall not be construed to prevent a bona fide church from preferring an employee of one religious sect or persuasion over another.
    Source: Oregon State 1998 National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 1998

    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 S. 47 ; vote number 13-SV019 on Feb 12, 2013

    Sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

    Merkley sponsored 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

    Prohibit sexual-identity discrimination at schools.

    Merkley signed Student Non-Discrimination Act

    Source: HR.998&S.555 11-S0555 on Mar 10, 2011

    Enforce against wage discrimination based on gender.

    Merkley co-sponsored Paycheck Fairness Act

      Congress finds the following:
    1. Women have entered the workforce in record numbers over the past 50 years.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. The Department of Labor is responsible for investigating and prosecuting equal pay violations, especially systemic violations, and in enforcing all of its mandates.
    7. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the primary enforcement agency for claims made under the Equal Pay Act.
    8. 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.
    9. Certain employers have already made great strides in eradicating unfair pay disparities in the workplace and their achievements should be recognized.
    Source: S.84&H.R.377 13-S0084 on Jan 23, 2013

    Enforce against anti-gay discrimination in public schools.

    Merkley co-sponsored Student Non-Discrimination Act

    Congressional Summary: