I’ve had the chance to say it in living rooms and school auditoriums, but I’m glad to have the chance to say it here: No one – no one – should be discriminated against because of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or religion.
I’m deeply proud to be from Massachusetts because the Commonwealth has been the nation’s leader in protecting and promoting equality – from marriage equality to the recently passed Transgender Equal Rights Bill. Congress and the President have also recently taken historic steps forward in promoting the cause of fairness and equality: the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hates Crimes Prevention Act and – after years of effort – the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
We’ve made extraordinary progress, but there is still much to do.
As other states grapple with whether to support marriage equality, I’m ready to move to the next step: End the two-tiered system created by the Defense of Marriage Act. Our federal government should not be in the business of selecting which married couples it supports and which it treats with contempt. States define marriage among couples, and, once married, all those couples and their families should have the same protections, the same benefits, and the same tax treatments. Fairness and equality are foundational values in our country, and nowhere is that more important than in our families.
In the workplace, people should be hired for what they can do and evaluated on their performance – period. I strongly support the fully inclusive Employee Non-Discrimination Act. Particularly in these uncertain times, people must have confidence that they will be judged on the merits. Again, this speaks to the fairness and equality that mark us as a people.
Finally, Massachusetts has been a leader in combating the rise of bullying. After college, I taught elementary school and saw first hand how important it is for kids to learn in a safe and welcoming environment. We need to help teachers and administrators create and foster an environment that welcomes students and their families, whether kids are being raised in a single parent household, by their grandparents, or by their lesbian moms or gay dads. All children – straight, questioning, perceived, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender – can thrive in school only when they are truly safe and secure.
This is our moment in history. From marriage equality to investing in public education, from sensible financial regulations to environmental protections, we must decide what kind of people we are and what kind of nation we are going to build. All across the Commonwealth and the country, people want to create a better future for their children and their grandchildren. They want an America in which every kid has the opportunity to succeed.
Note: Elizabeth Warren is a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate in Massachusetts. To join her campaign, click www.elizabethwarren.com/lgbt