Civil and Constitutional Rights

Earl is a strong advocate for human rights and democracy. While there are limits to our ability to impact what goes on in other countries, he believes it's particularly important that the United States always model and advocate for our deepest held values.

He is a staunch opponent of torture, whether committed by the United States or despotic regimes across the globe. He strongly supports the Geneva Conventions and the obligations of the laws of war. Earl has regularly led the charge to prohibit torture and close down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Questions remain about how to prosecute individuals accused of plotting or attempting to attack the United States.  There are legitimate concerns about the viability of holding these trials in civilian courts.  Earl believes that doing so would also be a step forward in confronting both our alleged attackers and the treatment they subsequently received at our hands.  Now is the time to recommit to, not shy away from, the rule of law.

Earl opposed the Patriot Act since the original, bipartisan version of the bill was undermined by the Bush administration and significantly expanded without safeguards for the rights of ordinary Americans.  This is why it and subsequent revisions of the original bill has been consistently opposed by thoughtful members of Congress from both parties. 

In a country that prides itself on civil rights and freedom of speech, Earl believes that we must maintain a system with checks and balances to ensure that our government works for citizens in a transparent way.  We can keep America safe without compromising our liberties.

Defending women's rights

The advancement and protection of women’s rights is a priority for Earl. He consistently supports policies relating to women’s reproductive health, economic equity, education, domestic violence, childcare, child support, sexual harassment and international human rights.

Earl is fighting to protect a woman’s right to reproductive choice, prohibit sex discrimination in employment and wages, encourage comprehensive sexuality education, protect international family planning efforts, provide assistance to victims of domestic violence, and advance the status of women and girls in poor countries. In a time when women’s rights are being used as a political punching bag, Earl strongly supports Title X, the protection of victims of domestic violence, paid family medical leave, and robust funding to Planned Parenthood for comprehensive sex education and medical services.

Fighting for LGBTQIA+ Equality 

All Americans have a fundamental right to feel safe in their communities. Earl is a steadfast advocate for policies to combat discrimination, inequity, and injustice.

Earl supported the Equality Act, which passed the House with strong support.  It amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil rights laws, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  Under current federal and most states' laws, LGBTQIA+ people are not explicitly protected from discrimination at work, in housing or public accomodations. First introduced in 2015, the Equality Act prohibits discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in both public and private sectors, and increases civil rights protections in businesses, hospitals and welfare services.  This legislation should be passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president.


The United States should support and honor the sacrifice all Americans make who serve in our military, no matter their race, gender, or sexual identity. At the end of the 111th Congress, Earl was proud to join his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in voting to end the government’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy.

Passing this legislation is a major victory for members of the LGBTQIA+ community who championed this issue, and for the thousands of brave men and women in uniform to receive – as they should have all along – the same rights and be judged on the same merits as everyone else in the armed services.

The Trump Administration's rollback of these policies plus the prohibition of allowing transgender individuals from serving in the military is absolutely wrong. Earl is fighting to end this baseless, irrational discrimination.


For more information about Earl's views regarding civil and constitutional rights, please contact the office.