Mary Gay Scanlon has been fighting for children’s access to quality public education for decades. She's been an active volunteer in her children’s public schools, developed innovative programs to serve Philadelphia public school students, represented children and families as an attorney at the Education Law Center, and served as an elected member, and President, of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District. Mary Gay’s career has made her an expert in education law and policy, and she is committed to making education, and its funding, a national priority. She will work to ensure that federal programs such as the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act and job training programs are fully funded; she will develop innovative solutions to make higher education, including career and technical education, more accessible and affordable, by prioritizing student loan reform, job training for 21st century jobs and expanding opportunities for students.
Affordable, accessible healthcare is a right, and cannot be reserved only for those who can afford it. Mary Gay believes that every American should have quality healthcare without being subjected to financial hardship. She supports universal healthcare, and a transition to Medicare For All, but believes that in making that transition, we must protect and repair the Affordable Care Act and support a public option system that protects the most vulnerable Americans. We need to expand access to reproductive healthcare, reduce prescription drug prices and make mental healthcare services readily accessible. We also need to redouble efforts to tackle the opioid epidemic, by supporting legislation to expand access to rehabilitation treatment options, improve training for medical professionals on the use and abuse of opioids and how to best monitor prescription abuse, punish predatory opioid manufacturers, and work to stop the influx of fentanyl and other black market drugs.
COMBATTING GUN VIOLENCE
Mary Gay is a longtime supporter of common sense legislation to reduce the plague of gun violence. She first organized support for this movement in 2000, when she chartered two buses and organized 90 of her neighbors to attend the Million Mom March. She believes that one can both respect the 2nd Amendment and advocate for sensible and responsible solutions to gun violence. Mary Gay supports measures approved by the vast majority of Americans: reinstating the assault weapons ban, age limits for the purchase of guns, and a stronger and universal background check system. She also supports red flag laws that allow law enforcement and health professionals to initiate legal proceedings to remove guns from persons who appear to be an imminent threat to themselves or others, while preserving the due process rights of gun owners. Mary Gay recognizes that gun violence is a complex issue requiring multiple approaches Prevention of mass shootings requires different measures than prevention of gun violence in impoverished communities beset by a steady drumbeat of crime and gun deaths, and both are different than prevention of gun suicide, which accounts for nearly 60% of gun deaths each year. Mary Gay also supports federal funding of gun violence research so that efforts to reduce gun violence can be informed by scientific research, as well as constitutional concerns.
As an athlete, student, employee, lawyer and elected official, Mary Gay has been breaking down gender barriers for decades. She’s fought to level the playing field for women in our classrooms, on the ice, in our workplaces and in our government. While on the school board, Mary Gay promoted review under Title IX to ensure that the school district had equal opportunities for young men and women. Under her direction, her pro-bono practice represented the Women’s Hockey team, and other amateur women’s sports groups, in their fight for equal treatment and equal pay. Mary Gay believes that women’s issues are economic issues. From closing the wealth gap and fighting for equality in the workplace, to ensuring women have access to affordable reproductive healthcare (including reducing maternal mortality and reinstating funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs), equality for women is an investment not only in women and families, but our economy. Mary Gay believes in a woman's right to choose, and will fight any legislation that aims to defund women’s health clinics or creates financial barriers to reproductive care. She will work to strengthen workplace protections for women and support policy that prevents gender pay discrimination. Mary Gay will continue to work with women on the local, state and federal level to build a pipeline of strong women candidates for years to come.
SUPPORTING OUR SENIORS
Just as we have an obligation to create a better world for our children, we need to ensure that our elders have the means to enjoy their golden years and receive the benefits that they have earned. Mary Gay will fight against cuts to the social safety network, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. She will support legislation to assist family caregivers and expand Medicare to include long-term care for the elderly and disabled, as an alternative to having to impoverish a family and rely on nursing home care. Mary Gay will also work to reduce prescription drug costs and protect seniors from price gouging by drug companies. She will work to maintain and expand the hard won protections for vulnerable seniors under the Nursing Home Reform Act, which are now imperiled by regulatory roll backs that undermine the quality and safety of care.
Mary Gay is a firm believer that our budgets and our taxes should reflect our values. Having represented low-income and working families for years, she understands that our economy is only as strong as our middle class, and “trickle-down-economics” approaches are not the solution. Mary Gay supports investment in our people, infrastructure, and innovation. Pennsylvania’s fifth congressional district is a regional economic engine, home to the Port of Philadelphia, an international airport, the Navy Yard, countless sports stadiums, and award-winning medical institutions and universities. Infrastructure investments can support these regional employers, as well as reduce costs for other businesses. We need to invest in the technology, training and jobs of tomorrow, while helping our young people and workers gain sustainable employment in today’s job market. Mary Gay will defend and support labor unions and workers. She also supports raising the minimum wage and paid family leave.
As a long-time advocate for low-income families and children, Mary Gay understands the influence that the lack of educational opportunities, and housing, health and food insecurity have on the generational cycle of poverty. Mary Gay supports legislation and programs that will lift families up and out of poverty, including: affordable housing, healthcare and nutrition, funding of early childhood education, affordable and accessible childcare, and protecting the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Our immigration system is broken and we must enact comprehensive reform. For the last 15 years, Mary Gay has represented asylum seekers, young people seeking DACA and special immigrant juvenile status, and victims of human trafficking. She has fought back against this administration’s weaponization of immigration policy, by mobilizing attorneys to represent children separated from their parents at the border and those detained at airports during the January 2017 travel ban. She’s also trained advocates to assist families threatened with deportation of a loved one under this administration's dramatically shifting policies. Mary Gay supports common sense immigration reform to demystify and simplify the rules and provide a pathway to citizenship for resident immigrants. While security concerns must be addressed in the immigration process, we must have a humane process to address our refugee crisis: there is no justification for government sanctioned or initiated child abuse. Mary Gay also supports the closure of private detention facilities, and with it the diversion of billions of taxpayer dollars.
GOOD GOVERNMENT & FAIR ELECTIONS
The right to vote is central to who we are as Americans - a right Mary Gay has been working to protect for nearly two decades. As an election protection lawyer and co-chair of the Voting Rights Task Force of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel, Mary Gay has trained and mobilized attorneys to combat voter suppression tactics. In addition to fighting gerrymandering and strict voter ID laws, her nationally-recognized pro bono program helped to pass a ballot initiative that resulted in Maine’s 2016 adoption of ranked choice voting, which gave voters more say in who they elect. Mary Gay will work to protect the sanctity of our elections, and safeguard them from foreign and domestic interference. She will fight to restore the Voting Rights Act, which was gutted by a 2013 Supreme Court decision, and she will support automatic voter registration legislation, along with other measures, to increase access to voting for all eligible voters. Mary Gay believes that the way in which we finance our elections need to change, which is why she will support and prioritize campaign finance reform when elected.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Mary Gay has been tackling our broken criminal justice system for decades. She’s represented children in the Kids For Cash Scandal, organized a legal team that secured clemency from President Obama for 29 prisoners, and supervised a multi-year initiative to end abuse of civil forfeiture laws in low-income communities. She has worked to get services for students to end the school to prison pipeline and develop programs to break down barriers and promote dialogue between students of color and police. Mary Gay wants to roll back mandatory sentencing, defund private prisons, and prevent the human and economic toll of mass incarceration. She counts among her proudest achievements a case in which a death row inmate had his sentence commuted and received a new trial. Mary Gay believes that the focus of our criminal justice system should be rehabilitative and she supports legislation that provides pathways to education, job training and placement, and mental health programs for the formerly incarcerated, and would restore the voting rights of ex-offenders.
SUPPORTING OUR VETERANS
Mary Gay comes from a family of veterans: Army (her sister, grandfather and uncles), Marines (father), Air Force (uncle) and WAVES (aunt). We need to recommit ourselves to supporting our veterans and their families, by making sure they have the resources they need in return for their sacrifice and service. For the last decade, Mary Gay has served our veterans, their families and our first responders through her work with Wills For Heroes, by providing free legal services to veterans in the Philadelphia region and beyond. Mary Gay will support legislation to expand access, coordination, and quality of care provided through the Veterans Administration, including the expansion of healthcare services offered to women and LGBTQ veterans, including: counseling services for veterans who have experienced Military Sexual Trauma, an issue that affects 20% of women enrolled in VA health benefits. Mary Gay will also support legislation to address issues that are of particular concern to the veteran population, including: high unemployment, homelessness and suicide rates.
Mary Gay is a longtime ally of and advocate for the LGBTQ community. She has promoted legislative and legal reforms to expand and protect LGBTQ rights and same sex marriage, and supports the Equality Act, an extension of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She will fight against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, to protect same-sex families and transgender members of society. She will also fight for resources to support the more than 40% of homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ in need of safe shelters and foster homes.
Mary Gay believes that rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and strengthening the EPA are essential to addressing the very real threat of climate change, and reestablishing the United States as a leader in environmental protection. She recognizes the need for immediate relief for health crises in areas like Flint, MI and Puerto Rico, as well stronger testing and enforcement to prevent future health crises. Mary Gay supports investment in clean and renewable energy, along with education and training opportunities that prepare workers for jobs created by the changing environmental landscape and the transition to renewable energy.