Protecting marginalized communities is not just an issue of justice, fairness, and equality; communities that suffer under marginalization, prejudice, and inequality are less likely to flourish both socially and economically. There are steps our State government can take that can decrease the burden of marginalization, provide equal justice for all, and ensure that every community in the Commonwealth has the opportunity to flourish to its full potential.
To that end, we must address employment discrimination, access to education, overzealous policing and prosecution, wage discrimination, inability to obtain medical care, hate crimes and systemic violence, and neglect of basic community services. I will work to eliminate the impact of injustice in marginalized communities.
America has come a long way in the last decade in our treatment of people of every sexual orientation and gender identity. However, much work remains to be done in Pennsylvania. People in Pennsylvania can still be fired, lose an apartment, be denied a mortgage, or be denied access to hospitals, hotels, and other services just because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Not only is that unjust, it has very real economic and social consequences. Across this country, people from the LGBTQ community are more likely to be homeless, impoverished, unemployed, and unable to access basic services. This isn't a coincidence - when society denies a group access to the things that everyone else relies on to survive and thrive, of course that group is more vulnerable to falling out of the economic systems that keep us all afloat. Passing laws, like the PA Fairness Act, would be a good first step to solving that inequality - and keeping people from depending on state and local services like Medicaid and housing support.
Pennsylvania is a diverse Commonwealth, but not every community faces the same treatment from their government and has equal access to the services we all depend on. Although the relationships between race and poverty are complex, and much of the work of bringing our State and Country together has to be done at the individual level, human being to human being, there is much that Pennsylvania can do to ensure that race is not a factor in the level, quality, or type of services and economic opportunities that our people have access to.
Systematically, communities of color are again and again targeted and short-changed when it comes to services, whether as small as sanitation, or as important as infrastructure investment, policing, or education. The cumulative result can be devastating, not just for the communities in question, but for all Pennsylvanians. Generations of families face education that provides few opportunities for success, inability to access higher education, overzealous policing and prosecution, and simply cannot build better lives for themselves or their children. At the State level, the legislature can help by ensuring every community has a voice at the table - not by locking out poorly represented communities or caving to the demands of donors at every opportunity, at the expense of some of our most vulnerable populations. Ensuring that desperately needed funds and services flow not just to those areas that have the most political influence but to those in the most need is a key role for government in protecting marginalized communities. Addressing our nation's complex relationship with race, poverty, and discrimination cannot be done by government alone, but we can start by doing our part to lead in an unfinished healing process.
We must begin to address many of the economic, health, and justice issues that disproportionately affect women nation-wide, right here in Pennsylvania. Whether it's the gender pay gap, or access to affordable healthcare for women, Pennsylvania should be leading the nation in lifting the burden on women. As a matter of both justice and basic economics, Pennsylvania should immediately take steps to address these issues. According to one 2016 estimate, Pennsylvania’s women lose almost $19 billion dollars every year to the gender pay gap. That's income that every working family, single mother, every Pennsylvanian misses out on. Now is the time to put that back into Pennsylvanian's pockets.
Women in Pennsylvania deserve access to quality healthcare that isn't dictated or directed by politicians in Harrisburg. Decisions about a women's health should be made by a patient and her doctor, not by legislators trying to push their agenda into healthcare. It's time to repeal the burdensome and unnecessary regulations on women's health clinics that require abortion providers to comply with "Ambulatory Surgical Facility" regulations. Both the American Medical Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have come out against the regulations and worked diligently to roll them back. We need to follow the advice of our doctors and medical professionals and roll back those regulations, as well as prevent further interference in the provision of medical care.