Senator Obama on the Issues
As a part of the endorsement process for every candidate, including Senator Obama, the NOW PAC reviews public records and public statements on issues that disproportionately affect the women of this nation. With Senator Obama, we spoke with him at length about his commitment to women's equality. We also took the Democratic party platform plank by plank and compared it to our stands on the key issues. From our research, we created this analysis of "Obama on the Issues."
EQUALITY FOR WOMEN
Equal Rights and Opportunities: Sen. Obama supports fully equal rights and opportunities for women, including ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. constitution, which he has returned to the Democratic Platform.
Ratification of CEDAW: Sen. Obama supports the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The U.S. failure to ratify this important international treaty has been a worldwide embarrassment.
Title IX: Sen. Obama believes that Title IX has been a bulwark against sex discrimination against students and employees at all levels of education, and has led to a significant increase in the athletic participation of women and girls. Obama promises increased enforcement by the Office for Civil Rights to ensure effective protection from sex discrimination and will target resources to for compliance reviews and technical assistance. Obama believes that schools should be more proactive in satisfying their Title IX obligations in both the sports arena and academic areas. Obama will direct his Department of Education to assist schools in using broader measures to assess the level of participation in sports among women and girls.
SAVING THE COURTS
Sen. Obama recognizes the importance of the federal judiciary at every level, and the impact of the Supreme Court with its current makeup. He opposed the nominations of both of the extreme right-wing Bush appointees to the Court, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and joined in the filibuster of Alito. As president, Obama would nominate judges who respect and support women's rights.
Preserving Birth Control/Abortion Rights/Reproductive Justice
Birth Control: Sen. Obama co-sponsored the Prevention First legislation in the U.S. Senate and continues to advocate strengthening access to contraception, identifying realistic solutions to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, and improving access to women's health care. Obama supports Title X family planning services, and ensuring equitable insurance coverage for contraception and increasing awareness of emergency contraception.
Abortion: Sen. Obama has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in that case, and has said that he will actively work to protect and preserve women's reproductive health and rights.
Abortion Procedures Ban: Sen. Obama strongly disagreed with the 2007 Supreme Court ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart, which departed from previous precedents safeguarding the health of the pregnant woman. He has expressed concerns that this ruling will embolden state legislatures to enact further measures to restrict a woman's right to choose, and that the conservative Supreme Court justices will look for other opportunities to erode Roe v. Wade.
Young Women's Access: Sen. Obama opposed a bill that would have made sisters, aunts, grandmothers, counselors, religious advisors - indeed anyone who assists a minor in crossing the state line for an abortion without following the home state's parental involvement requirements -- felons under federal criminal law. He also opposed a funding increase for the purpose of vigorously enforcing that bill.
Advancing Economic Justice
On every issue that affects the economic status of women and girls, Senator Obama has advocated for both equality and opportunity.
Pay Equity: Sen. Obama co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, understanding the need for better enforcement of pay discrimination laws and ending wage and job discrimination against women.
Minimum Wage: Sen. Obama has proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011 and indexing it to inflation. His plan will increase wages for 8.4 million working women. Obama understands that an adequate wage is a fairness, anti-poverty and women's rights issue.
Child Care/Tax Cut for Working Women: Sen. Obama proposed a tax cut of $500 per person or $1,000 per working family -- a plan that will benefit most of the 71 million working women in the U.S. He has also proposed a 50% credit for child care expenses up to $3,000 for each child.
Work/Family Balance: Sen. Obama supports after school and summer school programs for children, early childhood education, and universal availability of childcare. He also supports expanding paid sick and family leave as well as policies that recognize the dual roles of workers who are parents and caregivers.
Social Security: Sen. Obama opposes privatizing Social Security and recognizes that this social program is essential to older women's economic security, and should be fully funded without depending on private accounts and the vagaries of the stock market.
Budget and Taxes: Sen. Obama supports funding for human needs programs that are vital to struggling families and opposes billion dollar tax giveaways to the wealthy. He opposes making the Bush tax cuts permanent, and has proposed that they be rolled back for those earning over $250,000 per year. He has also proposed tax cuts for the middle class.
Promoting Civil Rights and Ending Racism
Voting Rights: Sen. Obama has been a leading advocate for protecting the right to vote, helping to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act and leading the opposition against discriminatory barriers to voting. As a civil rights lawyer, he litigated employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and voting rights cases. As a state senator, Obama passed the first racial profiling laws in Illinois and helped reform a broken death penalty system.
Increase Access to Capital for Underserved Businesses: Sen. Obama will strengthen Small Business Administration programs that provide capital to businesses owned by women and/or minorities, support outreach programs that help business owners apply for loans, and work to encourage the growth and capacity of these firms.
Immigration: Sen. Obama has voted in favor of comprehensive immigration reform which would have provided a path to legalization to undocumented immigrants and guest workers. He supported legislation that would promote immigrant family reunification, and favors passage of the "Dream Act" for higher education because: "we actually want well-educated kids in our country who are able to succeed and become part of this economy and part of the American dream."
Advancing Health Care for All
Quality, Affordable and Portable Coverage for All: Sen. Obama co-sponsored the Access for All Americans Act to provide all citizens with primary healthcare, and tackle a shortage of primary care physicians by encouraging students to enter the healthcare field. He champions a new national health plan that guarantees eligibility and provides comprehensive benefits.
Health Care for Children: Sen. Obama co-sponsored the Healthy Kids Act of 2007 and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization Act of 2007 to ensure that more children have affordable health care coverage. He is committed to making sure that all children have health care coverage, and will expand the number of options for young adults to get coverage, including allowing young people up to age 25 to continue coverage through their parents' plans.
Stem Cell Research: Sen. Obama supports expansion of the current federal policy, allowing more lines of stem cells to be available for lifesaving embryonic stem cell research.
Ending Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity
Sen. Obama supports LGBT families: "Because equality in relationship, family, and adoption rights is not some abstract principle; it's about whether millions of LGBT Americans can finally live lives marked by dignity and freedom. That's why we have to repeal laws like the Defense of Marriage Act. That's why we have to eliminate discrimination against LGBT families. And that's why we have to extend equal treatment in our family and adoption laws."
Discrimination/Hate Crimes: Sen. Obama supports expanding Hate Crimes Legislation to include sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as disability and gender. He supports including sexual orientation and gender identity in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Marriage/Civil Unions: Obama opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment. He supports the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and would extend full federal marriage benefits available to heterosexual couples to same sex-couples. He also supports civil unions.
Don't Ask Don't Tell: Sen. Obama supports repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. He believes that the U.S. must make it safer for openly gay and lesbian military service members to serve their country, and to provide for our national security.
HIV/AIDS Program Funding: Sen. Obama pledges to develop and implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy to reduce HIV infections, increase awareness, and decrease the HIV-related health disparities. He is committed to targeting resources to minority communities, and supports expanding funding for research including development of a vaccine and topical microbicides to prevent and reduce HIV transmission.
Stopping Violence Against Women
Domestic Violence: Sen. Obama co-sponsored the reauthorization of funding for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the U.S. Senate and introduced legislation to fund domestic violence prevention and victim support services. He supports the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to make the U.S. a more effective ally in the worldwide fight to end violence and discrimination against all women.
Economic Stability for Victims of Domestic Violence: Obama supports legislation such as the Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act, which gives victims of domestic violence greater economic stability, and he is committed to expanding the purposes for which leave can be taken under the Family Medical Leave Act to include reasons related to domestic violence or sexual assault.
Ending the Iraq War
Obama opposed the war vote in 2002 and argued vigorously to stop the war before it began. In 2002,while seeking the nomination for the Senate, Obama spoke out against going to war, and warned of "an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences." He is fully committed to ending the war in Iraq as president.