INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS

A commitment to the basic equality of all persons is one of my core values.  As a former civil rights lawyer, I am committed to federal policies that treat all equally without regard to race, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability or sexual orientation. In particular, recent efforts to end discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation -- in the passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill and in the abandonment of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy -- are long overdue, and I look forward to working on employment non-discrimination and relationship equality at the federal level.

On my first day as Governor, I signed an executive order that banned discrimination against state employees based on race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, political affiliation, veteran status or disability.  I also convened the Virginia Sexual Violence Commission and adopted many of their recommendations, which improved Virginia’s prevention and response to sexual violence in the Commonwealth.  I have been a strong supporter of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which guarantees equal pay for equal work.

I strongly support the right of women to make their own health and reproductive decisions and, for that reason, will oppose efforts to weaken or subvert the basic holding of Roe v. Wade.  We all share the goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions.  The right way to do this is through education and access to health care and contraception rather than criminalizing women’s reproductive decisions.

I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and I served as legal counsel to the effort to guarantee Virginians the right to hunt and fish.  I was responsible for common sense reforms to gun laws in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy, and I am committed to making sure felons and the dangerously mentally ill cannot improperly purchase weapons.

I also pledge to continue Senator Jim Webb’s effort to focus attention on the overuse of incarceration in this nation, especially as applied to African-American males.  And we must fight to maintain America’s strong tradition of religious liberty, where people are free to worship or not as they choose without government preference or punishment.