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Social Issues

“In a pluralistic society where we celebrate the fact that individuals can hold varying opinions, one thing should unite us: that we are treated equally in the eyes of our government. That no matter our sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ethnicity or otherwise, our country treats each of us the same: as a citizen.”  ~ Joe Curtatone


 

Joe On The Record:

Gun control: a national conversation | by Joe Curtatone, Somerville News (Op-Ed), 1/31/2013

I am a proud and active member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national advocacy organization co-chaired by Mayors Bloomberg of New York and Menino of Boston.  Joining my colleagues in seeking saner policies around firearm sales and ownership is most definitely a political act – and an act of conscience.  Like many other gun owners past and present, I see no contradiction between endorsing the public’s access to firearms and a deep, personal conviction that reform is needed in the area of gun regulation.  

As I look back on the violence of 2012 – from the streets of Chicago, to a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, to the devastation of Newtown, Connecticut, and as I confront the staggering statistic that 30,000 Americans die each year due to gun violence, I have to applaud President Obama for starting the national conversation that will, I hope, begin to provide some relief.

 

A declaration of equality | by Joe Curtatone, Somerville News (Op-Ed), 7/4/2013

By striking down DOMA’s Section 3, [Plaintiff Edith] Windsor is plainly treated the same as any other widow, as are married gays and lesbians throughout our country. They have the same access to the more than 1,100 federal protections based on marital status, from access to Social Security survivor benefits to using family medical leave to care for a husband or wife. And no longer will binational couples face separation and live under the threat of a spouse’s deportation because they were denied a green card after their legal marriage was not recognized.

While the Windsor’s case is at a base level about taxation and federal protection, it is obviously about more than that. It is about the inherent worth of people, of our gay and lesbian family members, friends and neighbors. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s repeated use of the word “dignity” in his written opinion is a careful and powerful choice. In a pluralistic society where we celebrate the fact that individuals can hold varying opinions, one thing should unite us: that we are treated equally in the eyes of our government. That no matter our sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ethnicity or otherwise, our country treats each of us the same: as a citizen.

 

Food stamps, minimum wage hike invest in our future | by Joe Curtatone, Somerville News (Op-Ed), 6/20/2013

In Somerville, and in Massachusetts, we believe in investing in our residents and our local economy. To see the stark contrast between this approach and the slash-and-burn approach elsewhere you need only compare the proposed cuts to the federal nutrition assistance program to a bill on Beacon Hill that would raise the minimum wage. The former stunts a still fragile economic recovery and hurts families and children, while the latter puts money back into the economy by putting in the pockets of those who need a little more. …

This kind of shortsighted cutting will hurt both the nation and Somerville in the long run. Children from working class families are most at risk for obesity and hunger, and Somerville has led the fight against both through our Shape Up Somerville program that offers healthy options at school and through our free summer breakfast and lunch program at multiple sites through the city. But if the proposed SNAP cuts pass, they would undermine our progress especially in eliminating the hunger that can impede our children’s ability to reach their greatest potential and become successful members of the workforce, all at a time when Somerville is making its largest ever investment in our schools. …

The same way SNAP benefits stimulate demand and boost the economy, raising the state minimum wage would put more money in the pockets of both working class and middle class families and ease their reliance on SNAP and other government programs. Full-time minimum wage workers in Massachusetts earn $8 per hour, which comes to just over $16,000 a year in one of the most expensive states to live in the nation. …

SNAP and minimum wage represent investments in the people who live in our community. By investing now instead of cutting back, we’ll see the future dividends in the form of better outcomes for our children and a healthier, robust economy.