Rather than voting up or down on the Senate’s Violence Against Women Act, House Republicans counter offered a watered down version, which can be read here. The House version, predictably, excludes Native women and members of the LGBT Community. Yes, this is a sort of dejavu moment. The last time Republicans also objected to protecting immigrant woman from violence.
After gaining assurances that visas granted to abused women from outside the United States would be limited, the GOP decided that since there wouldn’t be an “invasion” of abused immigrant women, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to include them in the Violence Against Women Act. It wouldn’t be a stretch to conclude that this change of heart is another attempt by the GOP to convince people that they really are pro-Immigrant, or at least less anti-Immigrant than they were before the 2012 election.
I’ve seen some outrageous attempts at explanations for why Senate Republicans voted against the VAWA.
According to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
“One provision that non-Native Americans can be tried in tribal court. And why is that a big thing? Because of the constitutionality of it, for two reasons. One, you know how the law is, that if you have a jury, the jury is supposed to be a reflection of society. [...] So you get non-Indians, let me say to make it easy, you get non-Indians going into a reservation and violating a woman. They need to be prosecuted. They aren’t prosecuted. So the idea behind [VAWA] is we’ll try them in tribal court. But under the laws of our land, you got to have a jury that is a reflection of society as a whole, and on an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right? So the non-Indian doesn’t get a fair trial.”
Marco “gulp” Rubio opposed the bill because, according to his statement, it would divert funding from domestic violence programs to sexual assault programs. We all know just how concerned Republicans are about prosecuting rapists.
Last month, Rmuse observed.
“Congress, Paul Ryan and Todd Akin attempted to redefine violent sexual assault in terms of the “legitimacy” of a rape, and although the notion that violent sexual intrusion would be considered illegitimate offended decent Americans’ humanity, conservative pro-life Christians cheered the GOP language.”
According to Rubio, it means Indian Tribes could have criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians who abuse women, which like Grassley’s “argument” is factually inaccurate.
There is only one substantive explanation for the omissions in the House Bill. Just as Republicans defend the rape culture in America, they are more willing to defend domestic abusers than their victims. Then there’s that all important reason, as explained by Rep. Rep. John Duncan (R-TN), the name of the bill sounds like too much like motherhood and apple pie.
Every bill is given a motherhood-and-apple-pie title …But if you voted [based] on the title, you’d vote for every bill up here. If we’d all done that, the country would have crashed a long time ago… So this is another bill with a motherhood-and-apple-pie title …Like most men, I’m more opposed to violence against women than even violence against men because most men can handle it a little better than a lot of women can.
This has nothing to do with an imagined expansion of Tribal jurisdiction. This is not about the bill’s name. Since at least some Republicans are sensitive about that, how about a more appropriate name for the House Republican bill. I proposes the Defense of Violence Against Certain Women and All Men Act.
The Senate version of VAWA isn’t about protecting frail women from violence because they “can’t handle it.” It does have everything to do with the fact that no one should have to handle it, endure it and eventually die as a result of it. I will concede however, that argument coincides with the GOP mindset on so many levels. It infers that, like rape, there are different classes of domestic violence. There are people who deserve protection from violent behavior and others who don’t.
First, let’s dispense with Senator Grassley’s stated concern about jury pools.
According to The National Taskforce to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, ”Section 904 of S.1925 contains explicit language that tribes exercising authority under these new provisions must draw from jury pools that reflect a fair cross-section of the community and do not systematically exclude any distinct group of people, including non-Indians.”
Marco Rubio’s claim that the VAWA unconstitutionally expands Tribal jurisdiction is just as factually inaccurate as Senator Grassley’s claim. From The National Taskforce to End sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women. ”The civil jurisdiction found in Section 905 already exists under the full faith & credit clauses of VAWA 2000. S.1925 simply clarifies the intent of this earlier reauthorization by making clear that tribes have full civil authority to issue and enforce protection orders against Indians and non-Indians alike regarding matters arising in Indian country.”
In other words, the GOP’s opposition to provisions protecting Native American women is about as consistent with reality as rainbow colored unicorns.
The House GOP’s poor substitute for the VAWA also excludes the LGBT community.
Marsha Blackburn had a moment of Sarah Palin logic, when explaining her opposition to provisions protecting members of the LGBT community in the Senate version of VAWA. ”It used to be women, and we wanted to keep it focused on women … Many of those that we’ve talked to in law enforcement have encouraged us to do that.”
Oh, I see. So then we don’t care about the 850,000 men who are abused by their domestic partners every year because THEY can handle it. Are we to believe that on Blackburn’s planet lesbians aren’t women and there are no women who are bi-sexual?
If the issue really was about focusing on women, Blackburn and the GOP would have seen fit to include provisions for Native American in this version of their watered down VAWA and for that matter, immigrant women who were left out of their previous defense of violence against certain people act.
These excuses are malarkey.
Tennessee is also home of the Don’t Say Gay bill re-introduced (the previous version failed) by State Rep Rep. John Ragan (R) who, in regard to same-sex attraction, told a constituent “feelings do not control the behavior of a mentally healthy adult human being.”
Who can forget Michele Bachmann’s response when asked why same sex couples can’t get married? ”They can get married,” Bachmann responded. “But they abide by the same law as everyone else. They can marry a man if they’re a woman. Or they can marry a woman if they’re a man.”
One can also look to how the GOP treats gays and lesbians in their ever-shrinking “big tent.” While being gay or lesbian and a politician within the GOP is possible, as Peter Beinart observes: “Gays now serve openly in the Marine Corps, but being a gay or lesbian politician in the GOP still generally requires staying in the closet—at least until you’re outed in some humiliating scandal.”
Nothing speaks more loudly to the GOP’s homophobia than the stated reasons GOP lawmakers opposed the repeal of DADT along with House Speaker Boehner’s costly obsession with defending the Defense Of Marriage Act.
The House GOP’s watered down version of the VAWA is more about preserving their bigotry than anything about protecting women or anyone else from violence. In fact, according to a statement from NOW President Terry O’Neill, “The new House bill purposely excludes LGBT survivors and even rolls back existing programs and protections for all survivors in the current VAWA.”
I can see their big tent shrinking from my house.
Image from Angry Black Lady Chronicles