Civil Rights and Equality

Senator Schatz has been steadfast in his commitment to equal rights for all Americans, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, disability, age, religion or sexual orientation.  During his time as Chair of the Hawai‘i Democratic Party and then as Lieutenant Governor, Brian was on the frontlines of the long fight to bring marriage equality to Hawai‘i.

Senator Schatz believes America’s rights and freedoms define us as a nation, and while much progress has been made, there is still more work to do.

When the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that prevented same-sex marriage, Senator Schatz submitted an amicus brief to the Court defending marriage equality and urging them to strike down the law as unconstitutional.

Senator Schatz also voted for and helped the Senate at long last pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to prevent gay, lesbian and transgender individuals from being fired simply for being who they are.  This legislation expanded existing protections against discrimination in the workplace to include sexual orientation and gender identity, bringing federal protections in line with the policies of the majority of businesses in this country and the State of Hawai‘i’s standard.

Throughout his career, Senator Schatz has proven unwavering in his support for a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make her own decisions about her body.  As a member of the Hawai‘i State Legislature, Brian led initiatives to increase access to safe emergency contraceptives, provide better care for low-income women and children, and for families living in rural or remote areas.

In the U.S. Senate, Brian continues to advocate for women’s rights, both at home and abroad.  He is partnering with fellow Senators to provide access to greater reproductive health options for servicewomen at U.S. military hospitals and offering stronger protections for our men and women in uniform who have been victims of sexual abuse.

As one of his first acts in the U.S. Senate, Senator Schatz co-sponsored legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which President Obama then signed into law.  The bill broadened protections to include Native Hawaiians, and strengthened sexual assault prevention programs.

Senator Schatz is also fighting to ensure equal work is rewarded with equal pay.  He has long championed and is actively engaged in efforts to eliminate pay discrimination on the basis of gender.  One of the first bills Senator Schatz supported in the U.S. Senate was the Paycheck Fairness Act – common sense legislation that gives women the legal tools to better combat pay discrimination.