EQUALITY IN HEALTH CAREKathleen is committed to protecting women’s access to health care and reproductive health rights. In the face of staunch extremist opposition, Kathleen has been a vocal advocate for overhauling New York’s outdated and restrictive abortion laws. In Congress, Kathleen is continuing to fight back against extremists who are determined to restrict our access to reproductive health care and deny us a voice in conversations about our own health and well-being.
Read Kathleen’s opinion piece arguing that the reproductive rights secured in the Roe v. Wade decision should be codified into law.
It’s not just reproductive rights that are under attack in this country. Women face discrimination and disparity across our nation’s health care system, and for years have been forced to pay more than men for health care coverage. Recent reforms will help stop many of these abuses and improve women’s access to affordable, high-quality healthcare services. But extremists in Congress and in state governments across the country are still working to undermine that progress – most recently, by threatening to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides not only reproductive health care, but also critical preventative treatments and counseling services. Kathleen knows this would be devastating to women and men across the country who rely on these services. She’ll keep fighting to ensure Planned Parenthood and other organizations get the funding they need, and she will never back down or be silenced when it comes to health care equality and women’s reproductive health rights.
EQUALITY IN THE WORKFORCEKathleen was the first woman elected district attorney in Long Island history, defeating a 31-year incumbent who led an office that failed to represent the diverse community it served. Kathleen made it a priority to make more diverse and inclusive what had been a male-dominated workforce, eliminating a 30 percent gender wage gap and implementing flex-time employment policies. Under Kathleen’s leadership, half of all prosecutors were women, half of all executive positions were held by women, and the DA’s office became a model for improving workforce productivity and professionalism through family-friendly employment practices.
In Congress, Kathleen is continuing to advocate for the kinds of policies that made the DA’s office so successful. Some of her priorities include:
Equal Pay for Equal Work – More than 50 years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, women in America continue to earn just 78 percent of what men earn. In our district, it’s 76 percent – one of the worst wage gaps in the state. Eliminating the gender wage gap is first and foremost a matter of justice for women stuck earning less than men for equal work – but it’s also a tremendous economic opportunity to harness women’s potential to fully contribute to our local economies. From their first year out of college straight through to retirement, women are paid less, promoted less, and less frequently placed in the policymaking positions they have earned – and the consequences of that limit the strength of our economy.
Within her first few months in Congress, Kathleen became an original cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act of 2015, which builds on the progress of past legislation by closing loopholes that have prevented those measures from closing the gender pay gap. Specifically, the bill requires employers to prove that pay disparity is caused by job performance and not gender, prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who share information about their salaries, and creates a grant program to empower women with salary negotiating skills.
Paid Leave – Women cannot truly succeed in the workforce when they’re forced to choose between earning a paycheck and spending time nurturing a newborn child or caring for their families. The U.S. is one of only three countries in the world without a paid maternity leave law, along with Papua New Guinea and Oman. As soon as Kathleen came to Congress, she immediately implemented a policy providing men and women on her staff with 16 weeks of paid maternity leave – the most provided by any member of Congress – because she believes that paid leave is critical to a strong, productive and diverse workforce. Kathleen will keep fighting for a federal paid leave law to ensure that all women have the flexibility they need to have children and care for their families without sacrificing their careers.
Protection from Discrimination – While we have seen important victories in the fight for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, members of the LGBT community still routinely face discrimination in the workforce and in all aspects of life. Kathleen is committed to ensuring LGBT individuals have full and equal rights and protections under the law by passing comprehensive legislation to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, just as it is prohibited on the basis of race, gender, religion and ethnicity.
Kathleen is an original cosponsor of the Equality Act, which will prohibit discrimination and segregation based on sexual orientation and gender identity in places of public accommodation, including public gatherings, stores and businesses, public schools, public transportation services, public housing, and programs or activities that receive federal funding. Kathleen is also an original cosponsor of the Equality for All Resolution of 2015, which declares that discrimination against LGBT individuals is a serious and widespread problem, that existing protections in federal law are inadequate to ensure non-discrimination, and that Congress should pass legislation that explicitly prohibits such discrimination in areas including employment, education, access to credit, federally funded programs, housing, jury service, and public accommodations.
MARRIAGE EQUALITYKathleen fully supports the right of LGBT individuals to marry the person they love. Kathleen was an early and vocal advocate for New York’s marriage equality law, and when its passage prompted a local clerk to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, she responded immediately with a letter notifying all clerks in Nassau County that any such protest would not be accepted and would be met with criminal prosecution.
The recent Supreme Court decision overturning same-sex marriage bans at the state level was a major victory in the fight for marriage equality, but that fight is not over. One of Kathleen’s priorities in Congress is to fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act in order to guarantee federal recognition, protections and benefits under the law for every legally-married same-sex couple in America.
EQUALITY AT THE BALLOT BOXThe landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 drastically increased the number of African American voters and elected officials after African Americans had for years been systematically disenfranchised, suppressed, and denied the right to participate in the democratic process. 50 years later, voting rights are still very much under attack in states across the country, and a recent Supreme Court decision gutted key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that we rely on to enforce federal law and combat voter suppression. Kathleen is a proud cosponsor of the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015, which will fully restore the Voting Rights Act so that the federal government has the tools it needs to ensure no one in America is denied the right to vote. Kathleen believes there should be no partisan divide on this issue – the right to vote is at the very foundation of American democracy, and the effort to protect and uphold that right should rise above politics and partisanship.