“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Declaration of Independence
Our country was started with an ideal, the belief that people have the right, through their individualized efforts, to live up to their full potential. The ideal of an equitable society in which individuals are given an equal opportunity to succeed is the foundation of our country.
I believe in this ideal!
These same ideals can be seen in the Constitution of Minnesota which states in Article 1, the Bill of Rights:
“No member of this state shall be disfranchised or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof.” Minnesota Constitution
While this ideal has formed the very basis of our society, we are far from achieving it! Too often individual rights are not recognized, and this is something I will fight for.
The level of need for this fight is everywhere. For example, in 2011 Supreme Court Justice Scalia stated:
“Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws.” Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
In that one statement Scalia illuminated how far we are from equal protection under the law, not just for women, but for all groups who have traditionally been excluded from the governing process, including people of color, such as Native Americans, and people with physical or mental disabilities.
What will it take to ensure Equal Rights for all?
To start, there needs to be equal representation in the governing process. All people should feel that they are represented in our government. For women this means that at least 50% of our governing bodies should include women. However, the Minnesota legislative body is not equally represented. For example, only 32% of the Minnesota State Legislature are women.
In the US Legislative body it is even more bleak: Twenty-three women (17D, 6R) serve in the United States Senate in the 115th Congress. Of these 23, four are women of color. For more information on the number of women of color serving in the U.S. Senate. Read more.
For people with disabilities it is even more bleak. Although 600,000 individuals with disabilities live in Minnesota or about 11% of the population*, they most certainly do not make up 11% of the Legislature. Read more.
Our founding fathers had a vision for a society that was equal in its operation. Equality is an absolute necessity in a Democracy and one which we must fight for!