The United States has a long history of gender discrimination that did not end with the passage of the 19th amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote. Disparities in wages, career advancement opportunities, workplace respect, and social standing remain to this day. As the father of two daughters, I want an America where women are treated equally before the law, are viewed by society and employers as just as valuable as men, and are supported by their government in achieving success both in work and home settings.
Although laws are in place to prevent wage discrimination, these laws are poorly enforced and many women are hesitant to speak out for fear of retaliation. We need to pass legislation that provides an easier path for women to have grievances heard, that steps up enforcement of labor laws guaranteeing gender equality, and that delivers stiffer civil penalties for gender discrimination. In addition, I find it shameful that the United States is one of the few nations in the world that does not have a national parental leave policy. If we truly want to promote family values, it is time for Americans, and Republicans in particular, to recognize the importance of new parents being allowed time away from work to focus on their family. Such a policy must guarantee that women will not be penalized for taking maternity leave through missed promotion opportunities, reduced raises, or other forms of discrimination.
Another step toward gender equality requires that our society take active measures to reduce violence against women, including domestic violence and sexual assault. I have seen firsthand the devastating consequences these actions have on women and children. Legislation must target the prosecution of perpetrators, improve protections for survivors, and enhance services for those in recovery. Republicans can take positive steps by refusing to sanction a "boys will be boys" mentality and promoting an atmosphere where survivors are believed instead of questioned and ridiculed. From personal experience, I can say definitively that the majority of sexual assault cases are not reported, allegations are much more frequently true than not, and those who do come forward face significant social stigma. Our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends must be supported to the full extent of our ability as a society.