Martha Coakley, a voice for Massachusetts

Women and families in Massachusetts, and across the country, deserve leaders who fight for – not against – them, effective leaders who get things done, who stand up for their values and amplify their voices.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the kind of leadership they get. It’s not the leadership they get from those who come to Washington, DC to dedicate their time to creating gridlock and obstruction.  For them, the best government is an ineffective one.   

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When Attorney General Martha Coakley goes to Washington, it’s to work for the people she represents – to be their voice. Last week, she was at the Supreme Court defending the rights of Massachusetts women in McCullen vs. Coakley, one of the most important cases for women’s access to reproductive healthcare since Roe v. Wade.

The buffer zone rules that Coakley is defending keep women safe. Without these rules, Massachusetts clinics had protestors pose as members of the Boston Police Department, wage “umbrella wars,” and spit on patients. And in 1994, violence led to tragedy, when a man opened fire outside of two clinics, fatally shooting two staff members and wounding five other people. 

That’s why, when Martha was serving as district attorney, she called on the legislature to take action and keep the clinics safe. She asked the legislature to create a buffer zone requiring space between protesters and abortion clinics. And as attorney general, she enforced and defended the 2007 law establishing a 35 foot buffer zone around reproductive healthcare facilities.

Coakley knew the buffer zone was necessary to protect public safety and patients’ access to care. Martha knew people seeking care, and people who provide it, have the right to access medical facilities without feeling a threat to their safety. Without being harassed, spat on, or worse.

Martha knows reproductive rights are civil rights, and that women have a right to make their own health care decisions –her record proves it. She leads with the understanding that women and families are better off when they can plan their own futures. And when they’re better off, Massachusetts is better off. 

Martha has always focused on the priorities of Massachusetts women and families. She’s spearheaded smart, tough ways to tackle child abuse –increasing penalties for predators and finding better ways to collect evidence. She’s held big banks accountable in the wake of the financial crash, and helped more than 30,000 Massachusetts families stay in their homes during the mortgage crisis. And, as the state’s chief lawyer, Martha became the first attorney general in the nation to fight for LGBT Americans by challenging the Defense of Marriage Act.  And she won.

And now, Martha, a second-term Attorney General, is leading the field in the race for governor by double digits because, quite simply, she is really good at her job. Three years ago, while the rest of the country was still reeling from the Tea Party wave that put ineffective extremists in office, she dusted herself off from her Senate loss and went back to work.. People judge others on the way they handle a setback, not the setback itself – and it’s Martha’s resilience that shows her true character, her dedication to serving the people of Massachusetts. It’s no surprise she’s one of Massachusetts’ most popular statewide officeholders.

EMILY’s List and Barbara Lee share a mission of electing more women to office because we believe women leaders are better at brushing aside partisan bickering and actually getting things done. Voters believe it, too.

The Barbara Lee Family Foundation’s nonpartisan research on women running for office shows voters respond to messages about women being in touch with real life and kitchen-table issues that really matter. EMILY’s List’s research shows voters believe women leaders are more likely to cut through partisan bickering and get things done.

Martha is one of Massachusetts’ most popular elected officials because she’s effective. With her work as Attorney General, her work on behalf of the women in Massachusetts at the Supreme Court, and now, her run for governor, she has shown us time and time again her commitment to the people of Massachusetts. 

Massachusetts needs a governor who understands its priorities and has shown their commitment to the Commonwealth. Martha Coakley will be that governor. Martha’s election would not only make history, but it would make a difference for every family from North Adams to Cape Cod. States across the country look towards building a future where government actually works for the people, and, with Martha Coakley, Massachusetts has a chance to make that happen.

Schriock is president of EMILY’s List. Lee is founder and president of the Barbara Lee Political Office and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation.