Issue Position: Equality

Issue Position

Holt received a 100% rating from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a 100% from The NETWORK National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, and a 100% from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). (109th Congress - 2005-2006)

Rush Holt is a strong believer in the traditional American values of equality, tolerance, and diversity. These are the values that have allowed this nation made up of immigrants of different backgrounds from all over the world to become one people, to forge a common identity and move ahead to lead the world. The march of American history has been a movement towards greater tolerance and respect for diversity, and Rush Holt wants to see our progress continue, to embrace groups which still suffer the lingering effects of bigotry and prejudice.

Rush Holt believes our society should send a message that we will not tolerate hate crimes, and that's why he co-sponsored federal hate crimes legislation and he will continue to fight to see a hate crimes law enacted. When a criminal acts on the basis of greed or animosity toward one person, that is a crime and we have laws to punish such behavior. But when someone commits an act of violence motivated by the victim's race, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs, that is a form or terrorism, it is a crime intended to strike fear into every member of the targeted group.

Unfortunately, racism continues to be a real issue in our society, and Rush Holt believes that the government can play a role in addressing this issue. He supports our civil rights laws and the effort to ensure that racial bias is eliminated in hiring, in housing, in education and public accommodation. He believes there is no room in our criminal justice system for racial quotas and disparate sentencing. And he wants to preserve those programs that are working to eliminate poverty and promote equality among the urban poor.

It is equally unacceptable that many women still suffer the effects of gender discrimination, the "glass ceiling" and pay disparity. Rush co-sponsored the Pay Equity Act, a bill that will ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work. Rush supports the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution and has supported legislation in both the 106th and 107th Congresses proposing its adoption.

Rush has worked hard to enact laws to combat discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Rush co-sponsored the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) that prohibits discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace, and the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act. He supports the right of gay and lesbian couples to adopt, and he supports allowing gays to serve in the military. He was a cosponsor of the Permanent Partners Immigration Act of 2000, which would allow citizens to sponsor their permanent partners for U.S. residence. Rush believes that all Americans are entitled to enjoy the basic rights of freedom of conscience and fundamental privacy. What people do in their private lives should not be subject to scrutiny and it is absolutely unacceptable that it should subject them to hate and bias from zealots and bigots.

The right to vote is the most important and fundamental right we have; it serves as the ultimate check against any policies that would erode our other civil rights. Rush introduced legislation establishing a commission to study the standardization of electoral procedures, to help make sure every vote is counted.

Rush believes the right of freedom of religion that is shared by all Americans needs to be defended on two fronts; we must combat those who would use the laws to legislate their religious beliefs and impose them on others, and we must carefully examine any policy or proposal that might blur the distinction between church and state by suggesting state sponsorship of any faith. That's why Rush opposes mandatory prayer in the public schools; the schools should be a place where our children learn to respect each other's differences, not a place where they are forced to conform to the beliefs of the majority. And Rush will oppose any "faith based" proposal that allows a religious institution to discriminate or that requires clients to participate in a religious observance in order to participate in a publicly funded program.

Rush Holt represents the values of the diverse population of central New Jersey and has established a record of fighting for tolerance and equality for all.