Civil Rights

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Democrats have a long and proud history of defending Civil Rights and expanding opportunity for all Americans. From the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 to including marriage equality in the party platform in 2012, Democrats have fought to end discrimination in all forms—including discrimination based on race, sex, ethnicity or national origin, language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or disability.

For too many though, this ideal is still far from a reality. That’s why in our fight to stand up for civil rights for all Americans, we are committed to protecting voting rights, enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ensuring marriage equality and equal federal rights for LGBT couples and achieving equal pay for equal work.

To learn more about the Obama Administration’s commitment to civil rights, click here:

Recent Updates
  • We Must Rededicate Ourselves to the Fight for Equality for Women

    In November, women overwhelmingly supported President Obama—and that’s because we knew as women that President Barack Obama has and always will fight for us. This is why on National Equal Pay Day, alongside President Obama, we must rededicate ourselves to the fight for equality and understand that our work is far from finished. Because these issues are not just women’s issues; they are issues for all of our families.

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  • Cesar Chavez Day

    ''On this day I join millions of Americans to honor the birthday and legacy of Cesar Chavez. Chavez believed deeply that every individual deserves respect and dignity, that an honest day's work is worth a decent wage, and that the collective power of individuals can bring about real change in our society. Embodying these ideals we as a nation hold dear, Chavez has inspired so many to stand up for their basic rights.''

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  • Only One Party Supports Equality

    This week, the Supreme Court heard two very important cases on marriage equality: Proposition 8 and DOMA. We don't know what the court will decide, but here's what we do know: There's only one party fighting to make sure every American has the right to marry the person they love.

    This week, the Supreme Court heard two very important cases on marriage equality: Proposition 8 and DOMA. We don't know what the court will decide, but here's what we do know: There's only one party fighting to make sure every American has the right to marry the person they love.

    Read More
  • 48 years after Bloody Sunday, the fight for voting rights continues

    In 1965, 600 Americans set out on foot toward Montgomery, Alabama, marching for a fairer America where all eligible citizens could register to vote and cast a ballot without fear or intimidation—and have their votes counted.

    But when they reached the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the marchers were met by state troopers, who ordered the "unlawful assembly" to disperse. As they knelt to pray, the peaceful protesters were brutally attacked by 150 troopers with billy clubs and tear gas. Fifty-eight people, including a 25-year-old John Lewis, were sent to the hospital with injuries. March 7, 1965, became known as Bloody Sunday.

    In 2013, more than 15,000 citizens re-creating the march were joined by the Vice President of the United States, who crossed the bridge arm-in-arm with Congressman Lewis and many others who led the fight for voting rights. We've made a tremendous amount of progress in 48 years. But even in 2013, the fight continues.

    Right now, the Supreme Court is considering challenges to the Voting Rights Act, whose 1965 passage was spurred by the resolve of the marchers at Selma. The Voting Rights Act struck down Jim Crow laws and measures intended to disenfranchise African American voters. In the years since, this historic, still-vitally necessary piece of legislation has been reauthorized four times with tremendous bipartisan support. The provision in question says that any changes in voting laws or procedures in the 16 states and jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination must be pre-cleared with the federal government—but even in 2013, it's necessary to ensure everyone who wants to cast a ballot can.

    Just last year, Republican governors, state legislatures, and conservative activists passed laws making it more difficult to vote—laws that would have a significantly disproportionate impact on minorities, the very populations whose access to the ballot has been protected by the Voting Rights Act for nearly half a century. Republicans tried a variety of tactics: slashing the amount of time available for early voting, enacting photo ID laws, and voter purges. Democrats and voting rights activists challenged many of these restrictions in court, and the courts blocked many of the worst measures.

    But what stood out the most in 2012 was the persistence of everyday citizens who were determined to cast their ballots. From the 300,000 Ohioans whose signatures fought back against attempts to change election rules to the 102-year-old voter in Florida who was told she'd have to wait in line for six hours to cast a ballot, the American people refused to let others trample on our rights—the rights that marchers, 48 years ago today, fought so hard for.

    As President Obama said just weeks ago in his second inaugural address, "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

    "It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began."

    For more information on voting rights, check out the Voting Rights Institute and sign up for updates.

Recent Action
Martin Luther King Memorial dedication
October 16, 2011
President Obama addressed an overflowing crowd gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, October 16th for the dedication of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Reflecting on the progress our nation has made since the March on Washington—while addressing the work still ahead.
Protecting against racial profiling
The Obama administration filed a lawsuit to prevent an extreme and potentially unconstitutional immigration law from taking effect in Arizona.
Strengthening our commitment to freedom of the press
Democrats passed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, reinforcing America’s commitment to freedom of the press around the world by directing the State Department to report countries that violate that freedom.