- Democratic Congresswoman representing Wisconsin
- Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus
- Views Voter ID laws as mechanisms by which to “disenfranchise” minorities
- Opposes legislation that would require welfare recipients, in exchange for the benefits they receive, to work or to show that they are looking for employment
See also: Democratic Party Congressional Progressive Caucus
Congressional Black Caucus
Gwendolynne "Gwen" Moore was born on April 18, 1951 in Racine, Wisconsin. After earning a BA in political science from Marquette University in 1978, she served as a VISTA volunteer and helped launch a new community credit union—earning, in the process, a national “VISTA Volunteer of the Decade” award for 1976-86. She also worked variously for Milwaukee City Development, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, and the Wisconsin Department of Employment Relations, Health, and Social Services.
Moore launched her political career in 1989, when she began a four-year stint in the Wisconsin State Assembly. She then served in the Wisconsin State Senate from 1993-2004. Her 1996 campaign was backed by the New Party, a socialist political coalition that counted Illinois state senator Barack Obama among its members. In 2004 Moore was elected to the U.S House of Representatives (representing Wisconsin's 4th Congressional District), and she has held that seat ever since. Planned Parenthood, EMILY's List, and J Street have been among her most stalwart supporters.
When the House of Representatives voted by a 345-75 margin to defund the notoriously corrupt community organization ACORN in September 2009, Moore was one of the 75—all Democrats—who voted to continue funding the group. For a list of other legislators who voted as Moore did, click here.
On January 27, 2010, Moore was one of 54 Members of Congress who signed a letter calling on President Barack Obama to pressure Israel to end its blockade of Gaza—a blockade that had been imposed in order to prevent Hamas from importing weaponry from Iran and Syria.
On May 1, 2012, Moore participated in a May Day immigrant-rights march in Wisconsin, where thousands of demonstrators displayed signs bearing slogans like: “Stop Ripping Families Apart” and “Education not Deportation.”
In November 2013, Moore attacked Hobby Lobby and some 40 additional American businesses that were challenging—on the basis of First Amendment protections for the free exercise of religion—an Obamacare mandate requiring all employers to offer their workers health-insurance coverage for certain forms of birth control that in effect are abortifacients and, therefore, anathema to many people's religious values. Badly misrepresenting the meaning of the First Amendment, the congresswoman said: “I think that the First Amendment, we revere it. It protects the rights of religious schools, churches, places of worship. And I think the sanctity of that is something we all appreciate as Americans. The Hobby Lobby is not one of those institutions. And the Affordable Care Act says that everyone ought to have basic health care.”
A member of both the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Moore has commonly accused her political and ideological adversaries of racism, sexism, and indifference to the needs of the poor. In 2012, for instance, when Republican lawmakers introduced legislation to ban the use of welfare cards in liquor stores and strip clubs, Moore called it “just another effort to berate those people who are in the lower class.”
When Republicans seek to enact Voter ID statutes to eliminate fraud at polling places, Moore—perceiving a thinly veiled effort to “disenfranchise” minorities—charges that such “unjust laws” have “nothing to do with stopping the manufactured threat of voter fraud, and everything to do with making it harder for more eligible voters to register and vote.”
In November 2012, Moore reacted indignantly to Senator John McCain's assertion that America's United Nations Ambassador, Susan Rice (an African-American), was “incompetent” for having knowingly and repeatedly mischaracterized the details surrounding the September 11, 2012 Islamic terrorist attacks against a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. “What unmitigated gall for these men [McCain and others] to attack the permanent representative to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice,” said Moore. “.... [T]o batter this woman because they don’t feel they have had the ability to batter President Obama is something that we, the women, are not going to stand by and watch.”
Abuse aimed at women is a theme that emerges frequently in Moore's political rhetoric. “Victimization of women is as American as apple pie,” she lamented in May 2012. “I think people accept it and (sic) men’s right (sic) [of] passage, men’s rights as boyfriends and husbands.”
At a National Partnership for Women and Families luncheon on June 14, 2013, Moore rebelled against a Republican proposal to require that welfare recipients, in exchange for the benefits they receive, either work or show that they are looking for employment. “We have a leadership that's really out of touch with most of the country,” she said. “They indict women who don’t work, they call them ‘welfare queens’ and there is all kinds of public policy demanding that you work before you get food stamps. Demanding that you work else (sic) your children can’t eat. But they don’t know what it’s like to support a family when you're paid minimum wage and what it’s like to be unable to pay the rent.”
In November 2014, Moore expressed outrage over a grand jury's decision not to indict the white police officer who had fatally shot black teenager Michael Brown during a confrontation that past summer in Ferguson, Missouri. (For details of that high-profile case, click here.) “The grief and frustration of the American people is justified and understandable,” Moore said in the aftermath of the ruling, “especially as we struggle to address the highly polarized relationship between law enforcement and young black men.”
In early September 2014, Moore participated in a West Milwaukee street protest aimed at pressuring fast-food companies to pay their employees at least $15 per hour. She and 26 fellow demonstrators were eventually arrested when they refused to vacate a road where they were blocking traffic. Moore, who earned $174,000 per year at that time, was subsequently fined $691 for disorderly conduct. “I’ll be saving my pennies to pay this $691 fine,” she told reporters, adding that her objective was to address the “tremendous inequality based on an unfairness—that gap—between what people at the top make and what low-wage workers make.”
In January 2016, Moore became outraged when Republican Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, citing the fact that African Americans were 15% of the U.S. population but had 40% of all abortions nationwide, went to the House floor and said: “My liberal friends, Congressional Black Caucus members, talk about fighting for the defenseless, the hopeless, and the downtrodden. There is no one more hopeless and voiceless than an unborn baby, but their silence is deafening. I can’t hear them. Where are they standing up for their communities, advocating and fighting for their right to life?” In reponse to Duffy's remarks, Moore told Politico.com: “How dare this man stand out and lecture us and to call us out? He said CBC members. That was personal. He did make it personal.... Rep. Duffy’s hypocrisy on this issue is as predictable as it is offensive. If he truly, truly wants to fight for the hopeless and voiceless, he should join us.” Moreover, the congresswoman suggested that Duffy ought to support the abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
For an overview of Rep. Moore's overall voting record on a variety of key issues, click here.
For additional information on Gwen Moore, click here.