In the 21st century, it is remarkable that we still have to discuss equality for certain segments of our society. The LGBT community is an important part of the fabric of our country, including serving in our military, operating small and large businesses and leading the way in the fight for social justice. As important members of every single American community, it is our duty to ensure that they have equal rights including access to jobs, housing, health, and safety. The depression and suicide attempt rates in the LGBT community demonstrate that we must do much more to educate society on what their daily struggles are.
The American economy functions at its highest level when everyone is given an opportunity to succeed. For the last several decades, we have seen the effects of “trickle-down” economics, which has only served to make the very wealthy even wealthier and has excluded the majority of Americans. While CEO salaries soar to the hundreds of millions, the men and women who manufacture the products have seen their wages stagnate. A worker who puts in long hours and is loyal to his/her company should be allowed to reap the rewards for their hard work.
One of the most important civil rights issues of our time is the attempt by those in power to invalidate or eliminate the voting rights of minority communities. This clear attempt to limit access to the ballot is an assault on the heart of our democracy. We must combat this by challenging these anti-voting measures in court and by making voting easier, not harder, for every American. We can accomplish this by having elections held on weekends and by extending early voting periods across the country. Automatic voter registration needs to be passed across every state and strict voter ID laws need to be abolished to ensure every American has a voice in our democracy.
The new head of the FCC has already begun making attempts to compromise net neutrality. Not only would this approach have a devastating effect on those living in marginalized communities, it would also have a stifling effect on small businesses and Internet startups. The Internet was designed as a free and open exchange. It should not be for sale to the highest bidders.
We are in the midst of a housing crisis. We must build more affordable housing, especially in areas near transit hubs. We have to relax restrictive zoning and building codes so that development can flourish. In return, developers must guarantee that new construction will include homes and rental units that are affordable.
We talk a lot about how much we appreciate what our veterans have done in the service of our country, but the talk is not backed up by action. Medical care for veterans is grossly underfunded. The promises we make to veterans for retraining and education are often broken. Veterans deserve more than just our gratitude – they deserve proper benefits for sacrificing their lives for our country.
We share the planet with the most amazing, beautiful and intelligent creatures. Currently, we are in the process of killing off a number of endangered species that are crucial to our ecosystems. We must support efforts to stop horrific animal slaughters in places like the dog-meat markets of Asia, the dolphin hunting coves of Japan, and the elephant ivory slaughter in Africa. In our own country, we must strengthen animal abuse laws, provide for free spaying of pets, and end puppy mills.