We’ve made great strides in advancing the fundamental rights of women in the workplace, the home, and in the doctor’s office – but we still have a long way to go.
I’m proud to be 100% Pro-Choice, and have worked closely with National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood and NARAL to protect and advance those rights. That’s why in the Maryland House and Senate, I restored more than $9 million in budget funding for women’s reproductive health services, passed a new law banning genetic discrimination (HB29), and established attendance policies to support pregnant and parenting students (SB232). I've passed the new law establishing hiring preferences for Veterans and their spouses (SB245), authored the first bills in America to stand up to the deceptive practices of so-called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” (HB1146) and requiring 24/7 emergency contraception on college campuses (SB969), and in 2017, I held the Hogan Administration accountable for their failure to protect Marylanders from losing ACA coverage.
Above: Roger speaking at National Organization for Women national conference, along with former Delegate and candidate for Governor, Heather Mizeur.
But my advocacy for women and struggling families goes far beyond the halls of Annapolis. In 2008, I was selected to serve on a President Obama White House working group for health reform, in which I advised the White House on principles and provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including banning discrimination based on preexisting conditions. In 2011, I led the fight in Maryland to successfully urge U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to recognize women's birth control and reproductive services as medically necessary preventative health services, guaranteed under the Patent Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Above: In 2012 Roger led a delegation to Capitol Hill, along with then Delegate Susan Lee and NOW activists, to secure a sponsor for the Equal Rights Amendment legislation, which resulted in U.S. Senator Ben Cardin becoming the lead sponsor.
Having lived in a group home for a period as a child, I have been a fierce advocate for foster families, and family reunification. In 2016 I joined foster parents and foster youth at a forum on the importance of foster parenting resources, and spoke to the need for second chances for our most vulnerable children. Earlier in my career, as Senior Counsel to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and as Legislative Director to Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA), I worked at the highest level of the federal government to travel throughout America and the world assisting families who were devastated by terrorism, poverty and natural disasters. During law school, I worked on the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, defending women's reproductive rights from anti-Choice legislation, including the misnamed "Unborn Victims of Violence Act," the Hyde Amendment abortion funding restriction, among others.
Above: Earlier in his career, Roger on the Floor of the United States House of Representatives as Senior Counsel to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, during consideration of her legislation to assist children who lost parents in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Above: Roger as Senior Counsel to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and USAID on a health care mission to Central America.
The right of a woman to determine for herself if and when she will start or expand her family is absolutely fundamental. This essential right is under assault in this country, with laws being passed in state legislatures across the country limiting a woman’s right to decide her destiny. In today’s Republican controlled federal government, those in power want to chip away at a woman’s right to choose. We must fight back against these dangerous attacks and protect the progress that we have made. It is also imperative that we not only play defense against these callous attacks. We must work hard to maintain the progress that we have made through generations of organizing, all while still working to expand upon that progress.
ABOVE: Roger at the White House, as a member of President Obama's health reform working group, during development of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Lastly, in 2014, when bigotry rose its head in my own community, I rolled up my sleeves to make history by helping to elect the first woman of color in the history of the 19th District. In the General Assembly and throughout my entire career, I have fought to protect the rights of women to make their own health care decisions, and to be treated equally under the law and the Constitution. In Congress, we will continue our efforts to protect and build upon the progress that has been made.
ABOVE: Roger with his Senate office staff, including Marice' Morales, prior to her historic election in the 19th District