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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand greets attendees during the Stonewall 50th Commemoration rally at WorldPride NYC on June 28, 2019, in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Fighting for women

Why America should be paying attention to Kirsten Gillibrand

By WITW Staff on July 10, 2019

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has never lost an election in her 13-year career in politics. She’s an advocate for women and families, a voice for reproductive rights. She helped repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, fought against sexual assault in the military, and cosponsored the 9/11 first responders bill. Yet she is currently polling between 0 and 1 percent in national surveys.

The reason? It could be this, writes journalist Anna Peele in a new Washington Post profile: “Gillibrand’s brand — motherly, responsible, pragmatic, experienced — is going to be a tough sell if what we really want, at some level, is for our politicians to entertain us.” In other words, in an amped-up Trump world of politics, being solid and steady is a detriment for the senator from New York. As the Post headline says: It could be our loss.

Gillibrand has put women’s rights and family issues at the center of her presidential campaign. At the recent debates in Miami, she said Democrats need to “stop playing defense and start playing offense” when it comes to abortion rights.

“Women’s reproductive rights are under assault by President Trump and the Republican Party,” she said. “Thirty states are trying to overturn Roe v. Wade right now. And it is mind-boggling to me that we are debating on this stage in 2019 among Democrats whether women should have access to reproductive rights.”

In May, Gillibrand unveiled a sweeping proposal she calls the Family Bill of Rights, which would alleviate financial pressure on families with infants, establish a national paid family leave program, and require insurers to cover fertility treatments such as IVF, among other issues.

The plan, she said, “will make all families stronger, regardless of who you are or what your ZIP code is.” To finance it, her campaign said, she would call for a tax on Wall Street transactions to generate up to $1 trillion in new revenue over 10 years. For instance, a $1,000 stock purchase would be taxed at $5, according to The New York Times.

The proposal — which she said she would make a priority in her first 100 days in the White House — would include the distribution of starter kits for an infant’s first month at home, including diapers, blankets, and a small mattress, and would address a shortage of obstetricians in rural areas, assist states in creating universal prekindergarten, provide tax credits for adoption, and prohibit discrimination in adoption.

In the Washington Post profile, Peele asked Gillibrand whether she frames her presidency in the context of motherhood because that’s the kind of female authority almost everyone accepts. Gillibrand replied, “It may be.” But she also said, “I just know it’s who I am.”

Read the full story in The Washington Post.

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