Civil Liberties

The rights of many Virginians are under attack by those in the General Assembly who disapprove of who they are or the decisions they make, purportedly for religious reasons. Yet, the very doctrine they profess to protect demands compassion for all people, leaving judgment or condemnation to a higher power than government. Jennifer is committed to ensuring that Virginia lives up to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence that all men and women are created equal.

As a Virginia Legislator, a person of deep faith, a mother, wife, sister, daughter, and member of a community, Jennifer strives to both advocate and provide legislation that ensures the safety, resources, and equal access to civil liberties for all men, women, and children regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious background, and socioeconomic status.  

Women’s Rights

Jennifer vehemently believes that the government has no place in the profoundly personal decision of whether to use contraception or have an abortion. She is committed to protecting access to contraception and a woman’s right to choose. She also believes in equal pay for equal work and has worked to increase opportunities for women and minority owned businesses. Jennifer has demonstrated leadership in efforts in the General Assembly to protect women's rights by

  • Opposing "personhood" legislation which would not only make most forms of contraception, in vitro fertilization, and abortions illegal in Virginia, but impact every aspect of pregnancy from conception to delivery,
  • Opposing legislation mandating that prior to having an abortion, a women must have an ultrasound—a medically unnecessary and costly procedure,
  • Opposing legislation denying Medicaid funding for abortions when a physician certifies that the fetus would be born with a "gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or mental deficiency,"
  • Sponsoring legislation eliminating the requirement for a 30-day waiting period prior to a sterilization operation for persons who have not had or adopted a child, and
  • Sponsoring legislation that increases opportunities for women and minority owned businesses to participate in the procurement process.

LGBTQ Rights

Jennifer is committed to ensuring that all Virginians, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, are afforded the same rights and civil liberties.  Jennifer is proud to work with Equality Virginia to fight discrimination in any form, and she is pleased to have received a 100% rating on Equality Virginia Advocates' legislative scorecard. Jennifer has worked to promote equality by

  • Co-sponsoring legislation to prohibit discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation,
  • Introducing legislation to define "bullying" and require school boards to develop anti-bullying policies and procedures to create a bully-free environment,
  • Opposing legislation that would allow discrimination in public university student organizations,
  • Co-sponsoring legislation that would have overturned Virginia's ban on gay marriage, and
  • Fighting for the election by the General Assembly of the first openly-gay member of the Virginia judiciary.

Voting Rights

Like many Virginians, Jennifer’s family history is full of stories of fighting to overcome barriers to voting. She believes that given Virginia’s ugly past disenfranchising voters, denying even one eligible voter the fundamental right to vote is one too many.

Jennifer has fought to ensure that every voter in Virginia will have fair and equal ballot access by

  • Opposing bills, such as those requiring government-issued photo IDs as means of identification to vote, that impose unnecessary barriers to voting,
  • Supporting legislation to reduce lines on election day, including allowing early voting, extending voting hours to keep the polls open until 8:00pm, permitting "no-excuse" in person absentee voting, and allowing parents or legal guardians of children four or younger who care for the child at home to vote absentee, and
  • Supporting automatic restoration of rights to non-violent offenders who have completed their sentencing requirements.

Immigration

As our world becomes smaller through our participation in the global economy, Virginia must find a way to balance proposals on immigration in a way that balances the need to enforce our laws with a few important realities.  One in ten Virginians was born outside the United States. More than 700 internationally-owned businesses from 45 countries operate in Virginia, employing over 160,000 people. In the past 10 years, international companies have announced more than 34,000 new jobs and $5.6 billion in investment in the Commonwealth. Virginia is in fierce competition for those jobs, and cannot afford to give the world the impression that Virginians are not willing to engage with people from other countries in global commerce. We also must not hinder law-abiding businesses in their ability to grow and create jobs. To this end, Jennifer has tried to achieve this balance by

  • Co-sponsoring legislation to provide in-state college tuition rates to the children of undocumented immigrants who live in Virginia and have paid taxes in the state for three years,
  • Opposing legislation requiring local school boards to collect data on the number of students enrolled in English as a Second Language courses and report this data to the Board of Education, as well as provide the number of students unable to provide a birth record upon admission to public school,
  • Opposing legislation requiring the boards of public colleges and universities, including community colleges, to adopt written policies and procedures prohibiting the enrollment of individuals determined to be undocumented residents in the U.S.,
  • Opposing legislation that is shifting the issue of immigration from a federal to a state level as Virginia does not have the resources to deal with this issue,
  • Supporting funding for ESL and bilingual education programs and opposed legislation that aims to limit these programs,
  • Supporting funding for improvements in language access in medical facilities and government programs, and
  • Supporting funding to expand opportunities to provide civic education classes to immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship.