Currently, explicit sexual orientation and/or gender identity non-discrimination laws do not exist in over half of states in the U.S., which means that LGBTQ individuals can be fired, denied care, or thrown out of their homes without any recourse. Without legal protections, LGBTQ workers face discrimination that makes it harder for them to find and keep a job and provide for their families. Census data analyses confirm that in nearly every state, men in same-sex couples earn less than men in heterosexual marriage, and lesbians and bisexual women are more likely to live in poverty than are heterosexual women. A national survey of transgender individuals found that 47% of respondents had been discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or job retention. And 26% of Latina/o transgender individuals have been terminated from their jobs because of bias.
Question: How, if at all, would you address ongoing discrimination for LGBTQ people (including any type of legislative solutions)?
Religious exemption laws permit people, churches, non-profit organizations, and sometimes corporations to seek exemptions from state laws that burden their religious beliefs. Today, 21 states have some version of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
Compared to the general U.S. population, the LGBTQ community already experiences higher rates of employment discrimination as well as discrimination in accessing healthcare. This is exacerbated for LGBTQ people of color: 36% of Latina/o transgender persons have postponed needed healthcare because they feared discrimination. Even without employer interference, LGBTQ persons are refused treatment by their providers and healthcare facilities on the basis of discriminatory personal beliefs.
Religious exemptions also allow healthcare professionals and institutions to refuse to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare services, impacting access to birth control, sterilization, and abortion services. Seventeen states allow individual providers to refuse to perform sterilizations, 6 states permit pharmacists to refuse to fill contraception prescriptions, and 45 states allow individual providers to refuse to perform abortions.
Recent polls show that by a wide margin, Americans strongly favor equal treatment under the law over accommodating individual religious objections when the two come into conflict. In fact, two-thirds of frequent church attenders agree that “treating equally under the law” is more important, as well as 93.8% of infrequent church attenders.
Question: How would you protect religious liberty and respect individuals’ rights to receive basic services without being discriminated against?
Comparing women's and men’s median earnings for full-time, year-round workers shows a significant pay gap based on gender. No matter what data are used, women on average are paid less than men and workers of color are paid less than White workers. White women in the U.S. who work full time, year round are on average paid only 78 cents for every dollar paid to their White male counterparts. For women of color, these disparities are even greater, Black women make only 61 cents, Native American women make only 59 cents, Latinas make only 55 cents, and Vietnamese, Samoan, and Laotian women in the Asian Pacific Islander community make 61 cents to each dollar earned by White men. For the LGBTQ community, gender discrimination has even greater impact on lesbians' wages than discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Question: How, if at all, would you address the pay gap (including any type of legislative solutions)?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 66% of mothers who had their first birth in 2006-2008 worked during pregnancy, an increase of 22% from 1961-1965. Among those pregnant women working in 2006-2008, 88% worked in their last trimester, and 65% worked into their last month of pregnancy. Additionally, 2011 saw an increase of almost 70% in the number of pregnancy discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Fair Employment Practices Agencies compared to 1997. Furthermore, one report estimates that more than one-quarter million pregnant workers are denied requests each year for reasonable accommodations at work.
Question: How, if at all, would you respond to the ongoing existence of pregnancy discrimination facing women in the modern workplace (including any type of legislative solutions)?
Ban the Box
Nearly 10 million adults return to communities from jails and federal and state prisons each year in the U.S., and they face significant challenges. Communities of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals; and people with histories of abuse or mental illness are disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system. As a result, between 70 million and 100 million – or 1 in 3 Americans – have some type of criminal record.
A closer look at criminal justice data reveals sharp racial disparities. Black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated than White men, and Latino men are 2.5 times more likely to be incarcerated than White men. In many states, people with felony drug convictions are banned for life from receiving certain kinds of assistance. In 12 states with the most restrictive policies, 180,000 women are subject to the lifetime ban on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
With 84% of for-profit companies conducting background checks, a criminal record is a major barrier to employment. But many states and local jurisdictions, including 21 states and over 100 cities and counties, have taken steps to remove barriers to employment for qualified workers with records. Beyond employment, banning the box will affect housing, public assistance, education access, and the ability to build good credit.
Question: How, if at all, would you address the economic disparities resulting from incarceration that manifest in employment and wages, and in access to public assistance, housing, and education (including any type of legislative solutions)?