We are called now to protect our fundamental American ideals—equality, liberty, justice, freedom, civil rights, and democracy—and to ensure that these ideals define our society. In recent years, we have seen all too vividly the efforts of some who want to return America to the Jim Crow era, where mobs and terror reigned, where discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and national origin was both practice and policy, and where the basic humanity of our fellow citizens was denied. We must not let this happen.

We must choose to reject hate, bigotry, and racism. We must work for equality, justice, and freedom for all Americans. There is no doubt that our history is complex; we are an imperfect people with an imperfect past. Examining our society, our history, our privileges, and our biases is not always an obvious or easy process. For some, the hate and bigotry we have witnessed in recent years were a shock and a wake-up call. For others, it was a demonstration of something they have been saying for some time: racism, bigotry, and hatred remain powerful forces in American life.

We are now engaged in an important and overdue conversation about public safety and the failures of our justice system, in particular for communities of color. It is time now to move forward with thoughtful and meaningful reform, partnering with law enforcement and working together to achieve our shared goals. I do not agree that calls to “defund the police” are the right approach to the effort to make our communities safer for all of our citizens. Across our community, people want police who are present, who know them, who respect them, and are accountable to them. That requires partnership, training, and funding – and we support those things in Houston.

And it is not just law enforcement that we must look to. It is also the laws being enforced that we must look at—for discriminatory intent, for disparate impact—and work together for change. We must both say and show that Black Lives Matter with meaningful progress.

As a member of Congress, I am committed to fighting to end discrimination and to protect the rights that so many have fought so hard to achieve. I was proud to co-sponsor and vote for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, one important step in this critical work. And I was proud to co-sponsor and vote for the Equality Act to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other existing laws to ensure that LGBTQ individuals are afforded the same protections against discrimination as every other American and end discrimination in public accommodations, federal financial assistance, education, employment, housing, credit, and jury service. And to support the Protecting LGBTQ Youth Act. I also opposed President Trump’s ban on transgender members of the Armed Services and the Trump administration’s proposed rule to roll back the Health Care Rights Law that prohibits insurers from discriminating against patients on the basis of sex (including sex stereotyping, gender identity, and pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions), race, color, national origin, age, and disability.

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