Equity: Embracing Diversity and Creating Community
We are stronger as a community when we recognize that each person’s multiple identities are a source of beauty and strength, and not something that should be a basis for discrimination. Michiganders deserve to be treated fairly by the government, the law, and our neighbors no matter who we are or who we love. As a County Commissioner, I fought to reinstate equal benefits for domestic partners and sponsored the expansion of Washtenaw County’s non-discrimination ordinance to include gender identity and gender expression. Recently, I also helped pass a resolution to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day and to recognize the contributions of our Indigenous citizens. Equity is about ensuring opportunities for those who have historically been marginalized and discriminated against; it’s about leveling the playing field.
As State Representative I will prioritize:
As State Representative I will prioritize:
- The Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act: Michigan’s main anti-discrimination law does not protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. As a result, it is legal to discriminate against transgender, bisexual, lesbian, or gay people in housing, employment, and public accommodations like hotels and restaurants. This is unacceptable. I will continue to fight for equal protections for all by expanding the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act.
- Transgender Rights: Michigan law puts unnecessary barriers in the way of transgender people seeking identity documents matching their gender identities. For instance, changing the gender on an adult’s birth certificate requires an affidavit from a doctor that the person has had surgery. This is out of line with the requirements of the federal government and many other states, and it puts Michigan-born transgender people at a serious disadvantage in acquiring the documents needed for participation in modern life. I will support legislation to repeal the surgical requirement for state identity documents.
- Health: Women’s rights, especially reproductive freedoms, are under attack across our country, especially here in Michigan. Women’s reproductive rights are non-negotiable. Women should have uncomplicated access to contraception and comprehensive family planning services, including abortion.
- Equal Pay for Equal Work: It is unacceptable that we live in a country where there is a discrepancy in average pay across genders. I will fight for legislation that helps to enforce equal pay for equal work.
- Supporting Healthy Families: Starting a family should not be a privilege that only some can afford. For many, having children can mean compromising careers, which affects the working-poor the most. To ensure that families can start off on the right foot, I will fight for workers to have access to childcare and family leave options that make it easier to raise a family while working.
- Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: We need to get serious about supporting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. As part of a comprehensive strategy, the state should provide more support to organizations like Washtenaw County’s SafeHouse. I also intend to find ways to intensify efforts to address the staggering rates of sexual assault on college campuses. Finally, it is unconscionable that there are hundreds of rape-kits across the state that have gone untested for years, allowing assailants to remain in communities without consequences. I will advocate for more state funding for law enforcement to address these unsolved crimes.
- Black Lives Matter: Our criminal justice system is broken. Black residents continue to be targeted by law enforcement, often living in fear of police. Mass incarceration has led to severe inequality with regard to arrests and sentencing, disproportionately affecting men of color, especially black men. We must prioritize training and education for law enforcement and judicial authorities to move toward a more equitable system.
- Black Communities Matter: The future of our state depends on the success of our communities of color. In particular, our majority-black communities are often suffering from disinvestment and racial segregation. The state must reinvest in local communities and empower local leaders to be part of building stronger, thriving economic and cultural centers.
- Welcoming Michigan: Michigan has always been a welcoming state for those fleeing conflict or political persecution around the world. We must continue in that strong tradition and welcome more refugees from around the world, particularly from Syria.
Ending Economic Inequality:
- Safety Net: We need to be there for our fellow Michiganders who have fallen on hard times by supporting a robust social service safety net. Food, clothing, shelter, and other basic needs are currently provided by a patchwork of government, nonprofit, and religious organizations with ever-shrinking state resources, often leaving people to slip through the cracks. I will fight for adequate funding for local government, nonprofit, and religiously-affiliated service providers in Michigan.
- Healthcare: Through the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion, the state has been able to guarantee health insurance coverage to many Michiganders, but many more remain unenrolled. I will advocate for the state to ramp up efforts to increase enrollment and ensure that everyone receives health coverage. Still, there are many gaps in Medicaid coverage, such as adult dental care. The state must play a role in helping to balance out those gaps and providing services for those who currently do not receive them. Creating and maintaining institutions like the Washtenaw County Dental Clinic is one way to fill in coverage gaps.
- Mental Health: The state continues to undermine mental health care for the most vulnerable Michiganders with proposals like the governor’s recent attempt to privatize Michigan’s Community Mental Health system. We need to invest in mental health care instead of cutting back. It is a matter of human dignity, public safety, and moral responsibility. Additionally, mental health workers should be compensated properly for their valuable work.