In America, everyone who works hard and plays by the rules deserves to pursue their American dream. We must have equal opportunity for all, do what we can to end discrimination, and remove barriers to opportunity.
The first bill Congressman Garamendi voted for as a Member of Congress was to honor female veterans and military personnel. For 30 years Garamendi has fought for and supported the rights of women. He is the proud father of 5 daughters and 4 granddaughters, and he wants to shape an America where every woman can earn equal pay for equal work.
Congressman Garamendi is proud to join a number of his colleagues in Congress in support of a package of bills known as the Women's Economic Initiative. These bills help women and families by:
- Raising the minimum wage;
- Guaranteeing paid sick leave;
- Cracking down on discrimination in the workplace;
- Expanding the child and earned income tax credits;
- Incentivizing more flexibility in the workplace; and
- Encouraging more women to pursue careers in higher pay fields.
As California's former Insurance Commissioner for eight years, Congressman Garamendi was proud to support the Patient's Bill of Rights and Affordable Care Act to help advance women's health. Because of the work of President Obama and Democrats in Congress, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to women for the pre-existing condition of possibly getting pregnant someday. The Affordable Care Act also made preventative screenings and birth control more affordable.
Congressman Garamendi is proud to serve in Congress with real life American heroes like Congressman John Lewis who were at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. Our nation has made tremendous progress in advancing the rights of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and other minority communities, but we must remain vigilant.
When the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2014, Garamendi immediately called on Congress to restore it. Garamendi is deeply disturbed by some efforts across the country to suppress voter turnout minority, lower income, and student communities. Policies that deeply concern Garamendi include:
- The reduction of polling locations in regions with high numbers of black, Latino, and student voters;
- The shortening of early voting periods;
- Efforts to end weekend voting;
- Efforts to deny students the right to vote based on spurious residency arguments; and
- The deliberate placement of polling locations away from public transit stops.
As California’s Insurance Commissioner, Garamendi led the successful fight to end discriminatory car insurance policies that charged higher rates in communities of color. Garamendi believes that one of the greatest unresolved civil rights struggles is the fight to ensure good schools in every community in America.
Much of America’s strength lies in its diversity. We are a country that invites enterprising people from across the globe to make something of themselves in a land of opportunity. All Americans deserve the freedom to practice faith in their own way, and we should never tolerate discrimination based on religious preference.
Throughout our country's proud history, every generation has faced a national debate on civil rights issues. While these struggles have often been slow and arduous, as we have witnessed for more than two centuries, the trajectory of our society is toward more equality under the law. Congressman Garamendi stands with President Obama, President Clinton, Vice President Biden, and Vice President Cheney in full support of equality for the LGBT community, including marriage equality. Garamendi was proud to support an end to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, because anyone brave enough to don the uniform of an American hero deserves to live their life openly and without fear of reprisal. Garamendi also voted for the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, helping to protect LGBT community and other minorities from hate-inspired violence. Garamendi continues to support the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which is already a state law in California, to make sure that LGBT Americans can't be fired simply for being who they are.
Showing the Globe America’s Best Values
Having served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia, Congressman Garamendi and his wife Patti were distraught when war broke out between Ethiopia and its former province, Eritrea. In 1998, Garamendi organized a team of five returned volunteers, including his former Congressional Chief of Staff, and undertook a two-year mission to assist in securing peace. The team traveled to both countries to meet with the Ambassadors, Foreign Ministers and other local leaders. In the fall of 2001 they met with expatriates from both countries now living in the United States, helping them to reconcile their differences and urging them to send the message of peace to their homeland. The team was invited to the Peace Signing Ceremony in Algiers where both leaders praised the team for its pivotal role in the peace process.
Continuing their lifetime humanitarian work, in December 2007 Patti and John traveled to Honduras to commemorate the opening of a community hospital that will serve tens of thousands of people in this mostly impoverished Latin American Country. Patti continues her humanitarian mission in Afghanistan, building schools and supplying innovative laptops that enable Internet access in isolated regions.