Republican senators are fighting Democrats over expanding the Violence Against Women Act because the new version would extend the law to cover lesbians in same-sex relationships and allow more immigrants to access temporary visas. Last month the bill passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee, despite all Republicans voting against it. Republican Senators Jeff Sessions (image, left) and Chuck Grassley (image, right), both of whom have attacked the repeal of DADT and DOMA, have been especially vociferous about the bill.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), originally signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, provides funding for domestic violence programs and for the prosecution of violent crimes perpetrated against women.
The New York Times notes:
“I favor the Violence Against Women Act and have supported it at various points over the years, but there are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition,” said Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who opposed the latest version last month in the Judiciary Committee. “You think that’s possible? You think they might have put things in there we couldn’t support that maybe then they could accuse you of not being supportive of fighting violence against women?”
It also dilutes the focus on domestic violence by expanding protections to new groups, like same-sex couples, they [Republicans] say.
Given Senator Sessions’ extreme views on gay men and lesbians, immigrants, and many minorities, it’s unsurprising he would see their addition to the bill as inviting opposition. Because violence against women in same-sex couples just isn’t the same as violence against women in opposite sex couples, right Senator Sessions?
Ironically, but also unsurprisingly, conservative women’s groups vehemently oppose the bill. More from the Times:
Janice Shaw Crouse, a senior fellow at the conservative Concerned Women for America, said her group had been pressing senators hard to oppose reauthorization of legislation she called “a boondoggle” that vastly expands government and “creates an ideology that all men are guilty and all women are victims.”
Last month on the conservative Web site Townhall.com, the conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly called the Violence Against Women Act a slush fund “used to fill feminist coffers” and demanded that Republicans stand up against legislation that promotes “divorce, breakup of marriage and hatred of men.”
Regular readers will remember Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America, who just months ago claimed that gays die 20 years younger than average, commit suicide at three times the average rate, are prone to syphilis and anal cancer, and cannot maintain long term relationships — usually terminating them after just a year and a half.
Ben Yakas at Gothamist notes that “domestic abuse has nothing to do with hatred of men, and breaking up a marriage filled with abuse is a good thing. There is no ambiguity about abuse.” He adds:
And between the contraception battle, health care coverage struggles, the pre-abortion ultrasound bill, and now this, would it really be inaccurate to argue they are anti-woman? Even Fox News agrees! At the end of the day, either you believe women are human beings with rights to make their own choices—rights to autonomy, safety and equal protection under the law—or you don’t. And by opposing expansion of the VAWA’s protections to same-sex couples, immigrants, poor people and Native Americans—by opposing increasing the availability of free legal assistance to victims and expanding the definition of abuse to include stalking—they are saying thepolitics are more important than the issues.
The Republican War On Women (and gays, immigrants, Hispanics…) seems to have no end. Our top priority needs to be defeating every single Republican in November.
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