One year ago, on February 1, 2012, the Senate of Virginia passed a backwards and extreme law to mandate invasive ultrasounds for women prior to an abortion.
On that same day, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and I announced an initiative to close the gender pay gap by empowering women and minorities to use information to fight for equal pay.
These two actions present a stark contrast for Virginia’s future. The Republicans in Richmond have focused on divisive social issues that hurt Virginia’s ability to maintain and attract the talent we need to create a successful 21st century economy. Instead, I believe we need leaders who will work to create inclusive communities and an equal playing field so that we can tap into the expertise of Virginians in all corners of the commonwealth, regardless of hometown, race, or gender, to create an economy that is built to last.
The fight for equal pay is one that hits close to home for me. A few years ago, my wife had to deal directly with learning that she was being paid less than a man who was doing the same job with the same level of experience. I remember thinking my wife is brilliant and hard working - how could this happen? Seeing her struggle to piece together the information needed to renegotiate her salary was painful but motivated me to take action.
That is why last year we launched a challenge with the goal of building new tools to help women and minorities get the information they need to negotiate better salaries - bringing us one step closer to equal pay for equal work. Unfortunately in Virginia, even today, women make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes working a full time job. We clearly still have work to do.
And that is why I was so disappointed and embarrassed with what happened in Richmond. Thinking back on all the progress we have made on women’s rights and how much work we have left to do, it’s so disheartening to have Republicans in Richmond take us backwards 50 years in less than a month.
These issues are personally important to my family and me. I have two young daughters who deserve to grow up in a Virginia where they have the right to make their own reproductive health care decisions and where they can enter the workforce with the assurance of equal pay for equal work. At the core of our belief as Democrats is the hope that our children, the next generation, will have the chance at a better life than our own. As Lieutenant Governor, that is exactly what I will be fighting for.
My father lived his early years as a refugee in India, then worked hard in America, a nation that afforded him limitless opportunities as an immigrant. He enrolled in a graduate engineering program at Villanova University, earned three patents as he lifted his family into the middle class, and sacrificed so that his children would have access to the nation’s best universities.
He gave me a chance at the American Dream.
I have always admired leaders who work to afford that opportunity to others, and who do so in innovative, imaginative, pragmatic ways.
We are fortunate to have two such leaders on the ballot this Tuesday.
I strongly support Barack Obama for President and Tim Kaine for Senator.
I support their clear vision for long-term economic growth and a track record of advancing our country towards that — and their intent to include all of us in that prosperity. I support them not only for what they may accomplish in the next four or six years, respectively, but what their efforts will mean for the next forty.
Both led smarter governments that tapped into the expertise and passion of a more entrepreneurial and activated public to solve today’s problems and build an economy powered by innovators, makers, and entrepreneurs. They started with key investments in our future - in R&D, human capital and 21st Century infrastructure like modernizing our electric grid, health system, schools, and expanding access to wireless broadband for 98% of Americans.
They opened up government, publishing data and encouraging its use to catalyze breakthroughs in a growing number of markets - including healthcare, energy, education and public safety. They’ve issued prizes and challenges to uncover hidden talent and seed the jobs and industries of the future.
I’m often asked whether the President has delivered on the change we believed in back in 2008. I believe strongly that he has, and that he set the course for much greater breakthroughs in the years and decades to come. Don’t take my word for it. You can see it first-hand, by joining the movement that’s already begun: as an example, you can participate alongside our inaugural class of Presidential Innovation Fellows. Doing so would surely restore your faith in our nation’s capacity to solve seemingly unsolvable problems, by inventing better solutions, together.
In the months since leaving the White House, I’ve traveled across my home state of Virginia to witness first-hand the kind of can-do spirit that is the key to our future, including our southern and western communities for a “Building a Stronger Virginia” tour joined by my friend, former Congressman Tom Perriello. We have met small business owners, community college students, unemployed workers, and working professionals.
Some have had their faith in the American Dream shaken by these challenging times.
But I know Barack Obama and Tim Kaine are the right leaders for this moment, leaders who will invest in the foundation of our economic future, who will entrust us to collaborate to a greater end, who will empower us to afford others the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.
I know they are the leaders who will push us Forward so let’s make sure Virginia helps lead the way and elects Barack Obama and Tim Kaine tomorrow. If you haven’t already, please plan your vote on what we hope will be a very busy day at our polling stations!