Ed Towns on Civil Rights
Democrat/Liberal Representative (NY-10)
Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation.
HR3685: Employment Non-Discrimination Act: Makes it an unlawful employment practice to discriminate against an individual on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, including actions based on the actual or perceived sexual orientation of a person with whom the individual associates or has associated. Prohibits preferential treatment or quotas. Allows only disparate treatment claims. Inapplicable to associations that are exempt from religious discrimination provisions.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Rep. CASTOR: The march towards equality under the law for all of our citizens has sometimes been slow, but it has been steady. Over time, Congress has outlawed discrimination in the workplace, based upon a person's race, gender, age, national origin, religion and disability, because when it comes to employment, these decisions are rightly based upon a person's qualifications and job performance. This legislation that outlaws job discrimination based upon
sexual orientation was first introduced over 30 years ago. A broad coalition of businesses and community organizations strongly support this landmark civil rights legislation, including the Human Rights Campaign; the Anti-Defamation League; and the NAACP.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Rep. HASTINGS: Federal law bans job discrimination based on race, color, national origin, or gender. In addition, 19 States have passed laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. I strongly oppose discrimination in the workplace. However, I do not think it is the place of the Federal Government to legislate how each and every workplace operates. A number of States have enacted State laws in this area. That is their right. Many businesses have chosen to adopt their own policies. That is appropriate as well. This bill as written would expand Federal law into a realm where PERCEPTION would be a measure under discrimination law [which I consider inappropriate].
Reference: Employment Non-Discrimination Act;
; vote number 2007-1057
on Nov 13, 2007
Voted NO on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman.
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution stating: "Marriage in the US shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."
Proponents support voting YES because:
The overwhelming majority of the American people support traditional marriage, marriage between a man and a woman. The people have a right to know whether their elected Representatives agree with them about protecting traditional marriage.
Every child deserves both a father and a mother. Studies demonstrate the utmost importance of the presence of a child's biological parents in a child's happiness, health and future achievements. If we chip away at the institution which binds these parents and the family together, the institution of marriage, you begin to chip away at the future success of that child.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This amendment does not belong in our Constitution. It is unworthy of our great Nation. We have amended the Constitution only 27 times. Constitutional amendments have always been used to enhance and expand the rights of citizens, not to restrict them. Now we are being asked to amend the Constitution again, to single out a single group and to say to them for all time, you cannot even attempt to win the right to marry.
From what precisely would this amendment protect marriage? From divorce? From adultery? No. Evidently, the threat to marriage is the fact that there are millions of people in this country who very much believe in marriage, who very much want to marry but who are not permitted to marry. I believe firmly that in the not-too-distant future people will look back on these debates with the incredulity with which we now view the segregationist debates of years past.
Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment;
Bill H J RES 88
; vote number 2006-378
on Jul 18, 2006
Voted NO on making the PATRIOT Act permanent.
To extend and modify authorities needed to combat terrorism, and for other purposes, including:
Reference: USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act;
Bill HR 3199
; vote number 2005-627
on Dec 14, 2005
- Assigning three judges to hear individuals' petitions concerning improper requests by the FBI for library circulation records, library patron lists, book sales records, book customer lists, and other records
- Reporting every year the number of library records orders that are granted, modified, or denied
- Allows Internet service providers to disclose their subscribers information and the contents of their communications to a government entity, if they believe there is “immediate danger of death or serious physical injury”
- Requires that any court that allows a “roving wiretap” under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) must describe in great detail the intended target whose identity is not known
- Allows individuals and businesses to seek legal counsel if they have received a National Security Letter from the FBI requiring them to disclose financial information and records
Voted NO on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Marriage Protection Amendment - Declares that marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Prohibits the Constitution or any State constitution from being construed to require that marital status or its legal incidents be conferred upon any union other than that of a man and a woman.
Reference: Constitutional Amendment sponsored by Rep Musgrave [R, CO-4];
; vote number 2004-484
on Sep 30, 2004
Voted NO on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Pledge Protection Act: Amends the Federal judicial code to deny jurisdiction to any Federal court, and appellate jurisdiction to the Supreme Court, to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of the Pledge of Allegiance or its validity under the Constitution.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep Todd Akin [R, MO-2];
; vote number 2004-467
on Sep 23, 2004
Voted YES on constitutional amendment prohibiting flag desecration.
Desecration of Flag resolution: Vote to pass the joint resolution to put forward a Constitutional amendment to state that Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States. Note: A two-thirds majority vote of those present and voting (284 in this case) is required to pass a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution.
Reference: Resolution sponsored by Thomas, R-CA;
; vote number 2003-234
on Jun 3, 2003
Voted NO on banning gay adoptions in DC.
Vote on an amendment banning adoptions in District of Columbia by gays or other individuals who are not related by blood or marriage.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Largent, R-OK;
Bill HR 2587
; vote number 1999-346
on Jul 29, 1999
Voted NO on ending preferential treatment by race in college admissions.
HR 6, the Higher Education Amendments Act of 1997, would prohibit any post-secondary institution that participates in any program under the Higher Education Act from discriminating or granting any preferential treatment in admission based on race, sex, ethnicity, color or national origin.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Riggs, R-CA.;
Bill HR 6
; vote number 1998-133
on May 6, 1998
Ending racial profiling is part of fight for justice.
Towns adopted the CBC principles:
At the core of the Congressional Black Caucus priorities is its historical fight for civil rights and justice. Among other values, the CBC stresses federal emphasis on the following areas:
Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC8 on Jan 6, 2001
- Equal Justice. The CBC is committed to stopping racial discrimination in all aspects of our lives. We will continue efforts to end immediately the unjust practice of racial profiling, and the racial disparities in sentencing for both drug offenses and death penalty cases.
- Juvenile Justice. We must work with our children before they come in contact with our criminal justice system. The CBC supports conflict resolution and open communication initiatives that serve as preventive measures to violence. It is also the goal of this Caucus to properly address mandatory sentencing guidelines and racial sentencing disparities.
Constitutional Amendment for equal rights by gender.
Towns co-sponsored a Constitutional Amendment:
Title: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women. Summary: States that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HJR40 on Mar 22, 2001
Rated 79% by the ACLU, indicating a pro-civil rights voting record.
Towns scores 79% by the ACLU on civil rights issues
The mission of the ACLU is to preserve protections and guarantees America’s original civic values - the Constitution and the Bill of Rights:
We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.
- Your First Amendment rights-freedom of speech, association and assembly. Freedom of the press, and freedom of religion supported by the strict separation of church and state.
- Your right to equal protection under the law - equal treatment regardless of race, sex, religion or national origin.
- Your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.Your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.
Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: ACLU website 02n-ACLU on Dec 31, 2002
Issue a commemorative postage stamp of Rosa Parks.
Towns co-sponsored issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rosa Parks
EXCERPTS OF RESOLUTION:
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; never came to a vote.
Source: Rosa Parks Stamp (S.2154/H.R.4343) 05-S2154 on Dec 20, 2005
- Whereas in 1955, Rosa Parks's quiet, courageous act changed the United States and its view of African Americans, and redirected the course of history;
- Whereas at that time, in Montgomery, Alabama, as in other cities in the Deep South, the treatment of African Americans on public buses had long been a source of resentment within the African American community;
- Whereas White busdrivers, who were invested with police powers, frequently harassed African Americans;
- Whereas on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks took her seat in the front of the 'Colored' section of a Montgomery bus, but was asked, along with 3 other African Americans, to relinquish her seat to a White passenger;
- Whereas although the 3 other African American passengers relinquished their seats, Rosa Parks refused to do so, and was arrested for that refusal;
Whereas because Rosa Parks's act of disobedience launched the Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted for 381 days and propelled the civil rights movement into the national consciousness, she is widely known as the mother of the civil rights movement; and
- Now, therefore, be it Resolved that it is the sense of Congress that the United States Postal Service should issue a commemorative postage stamp honoring the late Rosa Parks.
Rated 88% by the HRC, indicating a pro-gay-rights stance.
Towns scores 88% by the HRC on gay rights
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 HRC scores as follows:
About the HRC (from their website, www.hrc.org):
- 0% - 20%: opposes gay rights (approx. 207 members)
- 20% - 70%: mixed record on gay rights (approx. 84 members)
- 70%-100%: supports gay rights (approx. 177 members)
The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where GLBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
Ever since its founding in 1980, HRC has led the way in promoting fairness for GLBT Americans. HRC is a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.
Source: HRC website 06n-HRC on Dec 31, 2006
Rated 92% by the NAACP, indicating a pro-affirmative-action stance.
Towns scores 92% by the NAACP on affirmative action
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 NAACP scores as follows:
About the NAACP (from their website, www.naacp.org):
- 0% - 33%: anti-affirmative-action stance (approx. 177 members)
- 34% - 84%: mixed record on affirmative-action (approx. 96 members)
- 85%-100%: pro-affirmative-action stance (approx. 190 members)
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has worked over the years to support and promote our country's civil rights agenda. Since its founding in 1909, the NAACP has worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination while also ensuring the political, social, and economic equality of all people. The Association will continue this mission through its policy initiatives and advocacy programs at the local, state, and national levels.
From the ballot box to the classroom, the dedicated workers, organizers, and leaders who forged this great organization and maintain its status as a champion of social justice, fought long and hard to ensure that the voices of African Americans would be heard. For nearly one hundred years, it has been the talent and tenacity of NAACP members that has saved lives and changed many negative aspects of American society.
Source: NAACP website 06n-NAACP on Dec 31, 2006
Recognize Juneteenth as historical end of slavery.
Towns co-sponsored recognizing Juneteenth as historical end of slavery
A resolution recognizing the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day and expressing that history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future.
Recognizes the historical significance to the nation, and supports the continued celebration, of Juneteenth Independence Day (June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved African Americans were free). Declares the sense of Congress that:
Legislative Outcome: House versions are H.CON.RES.155 and H.RES.1237; related Senate resolution S.RES.584 counts for sponsorship. Resolution agreed to in Senate, by Unanimous Consent.
Source: S.RES.584 08-SR584 on Jun 4, 2008
- history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future; and
- the celebration of the end of slavery is an important and enriching part of the history and heritage of the United States.
ENDA: prohibit employment discrimination for gays.
Towns signed H.R.3017&S.1584
Prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by covered entities (employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or joint labor-management committees). Prohibits preferential treatment or quotas. Allows only disparate treatment claims. Prohibits related retaliation.
Makes this Act inapplicable to:
Source: Employment Non-Discrimination Act 09-HR3017 on Jun 24, 2009
- religious organizations; and
- the relationship between the United States and members of the Armed Forces.
Constitutional Amendment for women's equal rights.
Towns signed Equal Rights Amendment for men and women
JOINT RESOLUTION: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women. Constitutional Amendment: Prohibits denying or abridging equality of rights under the law by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of 3/4ths of the several States:
- Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
- The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
- This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
[Explanatory note from Wikipedia.com and OnTheIssues.org]:
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and, in 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time. In 1972, it passed both houses of Congress, but failed to gain ratification before its June 30, 1982 deadline. This new proposed amendment is identical in wording to the original 1972 proposed amendment. It was proposed in Congress in every session from 1923 through 1970 prior to passing in 1972; and has been re-introduced in Congress in every session since 1982 after its failure at ratification. The current version removes the Congressionally imposed deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, so that if the bill passes Congress, states have no deadline as they did in 1982.
Source: HJR69&SJR21 11-HJR69 on Jun 22, 2011
Prohibit sexual-identity discrimination at schools.
Towns signed Student Non-Discrimination Act
Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2011:
Source: HR.998&S.555 11-HR0998 on Mar 10, 2011
- Prohibits public school students from being excluded from participating in, or subject to discrimination under, any federally-assisted educational program on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or that of their associates.
- Considers harassment to be a form of discrimination.
- Prohibits retaliation against anyone for opposing conduct they reasonably believe to be unlawful under this Act.
- Authorizes federal departments and agencies to enforce these prohibitions by cutting off the educational assistance of recipients found to be violating them.
Allows an aggrieved individual to assert a violation of this Act in a judicial proceeding and recover reasonable attorney's fees should they prevail.
- Deems a state's receipt of federal educational assistance for a program to constitute a waiver of sovereign immunity for conduct prohibited under this Act regarding such program.
Provide benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees.
Towns co-sponsored providing benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees
Sen. LIEBERMAN: This legislation would require the Government to extend employee benefit programs to the same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees. It is sound public policy and it makes excellent business sense.
Under our bill, Federal employee and the employee's domestic partner would be eligible to participate in benefits to the same extent that married employees and their spouses participate. Employees and their partners would also assume the same obligations that apply to married employees and their spouses, such as anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.
The Federal Government is our Nation's largest employer and should lead other employers, rather than lagging behind, in the quest to provide equal and fair compensation and benefits to all employees. That thousands of Federal workers who have dedicated their careers to public service and who live in committed relationships with same-sex domestic partners receive fewer protections for their
families than those married employees is patently unfair and, frankly, makes no economic sense.
I call upon my colleagues to express their support for this important legislation. It is time for the Federal Government to catch up to the private sector, not just to set an example but so that it can compete for the most qualified employees and ensure that all of our public servants receive fair and equitable treatment. It makes good economic and policy senses. It is the right thing to do.
SUMMARY: Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2007
Employees and their domestic partners will have the same benefits as married employees and their spouses under--
Source: Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (S.2521/H.R.4838) 2007-S2521 on Dec 19, 2007
- Employee health benefits
- Retirement and disability plans
- Family, medical, and emergency leave
- Group life insurance
- Long-term care insurance
- Compensation for work injuries
- Death, disability, and similar benefits
- Relocation, travel, and related expenses.
Re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment.
Towns co-sponsored re-introducing the Equal Rights Amendment
A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women, which shall be part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of 3/4 of the States:Sen. KENNEDY. "It's a privilege to join my colleagues in reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. The ERA is essential to guarantee that the freedoms protected by our Constitution apply equally to men and women. From the beginning of our history as a Nation, women have had to wage a constant, long and difficult battle to win the same basic rights granted to men. That battle goes on
today, since discrimination still continues in many ways.
- Section 1.Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
- Section 2.The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
- Section 3.This article shall take effect 2 years after the date of ratification.
"Despite passage of the Equal Pay Act & the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, discrimination against women continues to permeate the workforce and many areas of the economy. Today, women earn about 77 cents for each dollar earned by men, and the gap is even greater for women of color. More than 60% of working women are still clustered in a narrow range of traditionally female, traditionally low-paying occupations, and female-headed households continue to dominate the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
"A stronger effort is clearly needed to finally live up to our commitment of full equality. The ERA alone cannot remedy all discrimination, but it will clearly strengthen the ongoing efforts of women across the country to obtain equal treatment.
"We know from the failed ratification experiences of the past that amending the Constitution to include the ERA will not be easy to achieve. But the women of America deserve no less."
Source: Equal Rights Amendment (S.J.RES.10/H.J.RES.40) 2007-SJR10 on Mar 29, 2007
Honor the 100th anniversary of the NAACP.
Towns signed bill honoring the 100th anniversary of the NAACP
- Whereas the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, originally known as the National Negro Committee, was founded in New York City on February 12, 1909, the centennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, by a multiracial group of activists who met in a national conference to discuss the civil and political rights of African-Americans;
- Whereas the NAACP is the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States;
- Whereas the mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination;
- Whereas the NAACP is committed to achieving its goals through nonviolence;
Whereas the NAACP advances its mission through reliance upon the press, the petition, the ballot, and the courts, and has been persistent in the use of legal and moral persuasion, even in the face of overt and violent racial hostility;
- Whereas the NAACP has used political pressure, marches, demonstrations, and effective lobbying to serve as the voice, as well as the shield, for minority Americans;
Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Congress
Source: SCR.3&HCR.35 2009-SCR3 on Jan 28, 2009
- Recognizes the 100th anniversary of the historic founding of the NAACP.
- Honors and praises the NAACP on the occasion of its anniversary for its work to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all persons.
Page last updated: Jun 10, 2012