Rep. Gabbard Votes Against Bill that Undermines Civil Rights ProtectionsFebruary 15, 2018, 4:29 PM HST (Updated February 15, 2018, 4:55 PM)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voted today, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, against legislation that unravels civil rights protections for millions of individuals with disabilities in Hawai‘i and across the country. H.R. 620 undermines the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by placing burdensome requirements on individuals with disabilities, making it more difficult for them to access equal rights protections. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 225-192.
According to the Hawai‘i Disability Rights Center, 15% of Hawai‘i residents are disabled – higher than the national average. The National Federation for the Blind of Hawai‘i also reported that Hawai‘i is home to roughly 22,700 people with a visual disability, who would be disproportionately burdened by the hurdles enacted by H.R. 620.
“For more than 25 years, the ADA has been instrumental in expanding and protecting fair, equal opportunities for disabled Americans,” said Rep. Gabbard. “H.R. 620 unravels this progress, making it easier for employers to skirt around discrimination laws and requiring people with disabilities to jump through hoops for the equal access protections to which they are entitled. I’ve heard from many community organizations in Hawai‘i that shared how this legislation would hurt our more than 210,000 disabled residents. I stand with them in strong opposition to this harmful legislation.”
National Federation of the Blind of Hawai‘i ‘said, “The leaders and members of the National Federation of the Blind of Hawaii strongly oppose H. R. 620, the so-called ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Education and Reform Act. If this bill becomes law, it will diminish the rights of blind people by eroding the foundation of the ADA. Passed with strong bi-partisan support and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, the ADA assures that all Americans with disabilities have the right to live free from exclusion and discrimination in any way in American society. The ADA ensures that anyone with a disability can enjoy the benefits of living in our free and open state and country alongside all other citizens. In short, the ADA is the persons with disabilities equality act, which must not be diminished in either its force or effect. We call upon everyone in Hawai‘i and throughout the U. S. to join us in opposing H.R. 620, which is a deceptive attempt to repeal the ADA.”
Aloha State Association of the Deaf said, “Aloha State Association of the Deaf strongly opposes this bill because it will affect Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing citizens of Hawai‘i.”
Special Olympics Hawai‘i said, “Special Olympics strongly supports legislation that guarantees the rights, full participation, and integration of people with intellectual disabilities (ID). We appreciate the progress that has been made towards eliminating the stigma, stereotypes, isolation, and discrimination that people with intellectual disabilities face – most importantly around access to sport, health, and education. We ask Congress to remain vigilant against any erosion of any provisions that have made a substantial difference in the lives of people with disabilities.”
H.R. 620 is opposed by numerous civil rights, disability rights, and other organizations including AARP, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, American Association of Justice (AAJ), ACLU, AFSCME, National Disability Rights Network, American Association of People with Disabilities, National Council of Disability, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Easterseals, National Foundation of the Blind and United Cerebral Palsy.
Rep. Gabbard has long called for expanding federal protections against discrimination on the basis of national origin, sexual orientation, disability, religious belief, gender or race. She is a cosponsor of the Equality Act, which would add sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity to the list of protected classes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. H.R. 2282 would expand federal protections to end discrimination in public accommodations, state and local government services, public education, federal financial assistance, employment, housing, credit, and federal jury service.
Rep. Gabbard is also a cosponsor of H.R.1734 and H.R. 1772, which will increase access to technology, education, and employment opportunities for blind individuals, and H.R. 1377, which phases out subminimum wages for workers with disabilities.