Violence Against Women Act May Be Stripped of LGBT Protections Because of Awful Republicans

rep. sandy adams, FL

Earlier in the year, the Republican Party raised any eyebrows that weren’t already raised at its apparent total disregard for the needs of women when it was reluctant to renew the Violence Against Women Act because it included new protections for gay people and undocumented immigrants. VAWA provides federal funding to investigate and prosecute domestic and intimate partner violence, and upon finding out that it might benefit people whom the GOP has actively tried to restrict from equal access to rights, health, and safety, they hesitated to continue supporting it.

While the Senate has approved the re-authorization of VAWA, with LGBT protections included, the Republican-controlled House has introduced its own version of the bill, which is of course stripped of provisions for queer people. In her statement about the bill, Republican Rep. Sandy Adams (who has a personal history of work in law enforcement as well as experience of domestic violence) said pointedly that “It is my hope that my colleagues in both the House and Senate can put politics aside and support this lifesaving legislation. Too many lives are at stake for us to give anything less.”

During the initial discussion of the bill, some wondered whether the Democratic legislators who had added in the new provisions were, in fact, playing politics — whether they wanted to maneuver Republicans into rejecting legislation that seemed objectively necessary, and make them out to be the “bad guys” for both women and queers (and queer women). Others thought that Democrats were, in fact, genuinely motivated to support queer (and immigrant) communities, and were recognizing the fact that same-sex couples experience roughly equal levels of intimate partner violence as straight ones, but have significantly less access to support or resources and significantly fewer resources of their own (economic, familial, or communal) to call upon. It’s possible that the real answer is both, or somewhere in between. Regardless of Democrats’ intentions in altering the bill, however, the fact is that the Republican House actually is rejecting legislation that’s objectively necessary, or at least only agreeing to it in the case that it helps those they’ve deemed worthy of safety and security, and leaves in the cold those whom it doesn’t. And the blame for that falls on no one’s heads but theirs.

Sandy Adams’ stripped-down version of VAWA is described as “likely to pass,” at least in the House. Adams has said that she thinks the new provisions are “unnecessary,” and that there’s no evidence anyone is being turned away from resources because of their identity. This is despite the fact that according to ThinkProgress, 44% of LGBT domestic violence victims who asked for help or support were turned away last year — and that’s only out of those who felt comfortable seeking help. Even if that weren’t true, there’s still no excuse for a legislative body meant to represent and protect the people — all of them — to refuse protections to a specific group that are explicitly granted to the majority simply because it doesn’t want to deal with them. The only way that an argument that LGBT provisions are “unnecessary” makes sense is if domestic violence doesn’t exist in LGBT communities, and it’s well documented that it does. There’s a fine line between not knowing and not caring, and the House Republicans who are pushing the weakened version of VAWA are close to it. It’s possible that the House will succeed in cutting out the new, necessary protections afforded by the updated version of VAWA, and add another milestone to their campaign against women and queers. And in doing so, they’ll go down in history not just as people who didn’t work to help marginalized communities, but as people who actively reached out to throw them under the bus.

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

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19 Comments

  1. I can’t have a level-headed reaction to these things. I read the title, half the article, jumped off my chair and started bouncing around the room shouting ‘Fuck You! Fuck You Republicans!’ at my laptop. Literally no other outlet for the rage.

    • Me too. And I try to be open-minded and not judge people based on some party affiliation (I know plenty of republicans who are decent people at heart) but it just gets so hard when you see all this bullshit. Why can’t the decent republicans be the ones in office? It seems all the really bitch ass obnoxious, hateful ones are, and it prevents anyone from making any progress.

      • I wish the Republican party would split already. The normal Republicans can stay in the Republican party, and the crazies can go off to the Capitalists for Jesus party. Think of how much simpler voting would become!

    • GAH seriously! I had to take breaks after every paragraph to remind myself to breathe and not punch things.
      Like, I thought not wanting gay marriage was the worst b/c it made religious republicans etc. seem like they just hated happiness, but WHAT IS THIS SHIT. I literally do not understand.

  2. there’s still no excuse for a legislative body meant to represent and protect the people — all of them — to refuse protections to a specific group that are explicitly granted to the majority simply because it doesn’t want to deal with them.

    I feel sick.

  3. “And in doing so, they’ll go down in history not just as people who didn’t work to help marginalized communities, but as people who actively reached out to throw them under the bus”

    Sadly I think this has already happened. I actually know some reasonable, intelligent Republicans who agree that their party is (and has been) going in a bad direction, but who stay in order to “change it from the inside.” While this is admirable, some days I just don’t believe it’s possible.

  4. 44% is a terrifying number. When I was younger, I was in a relationship that at times bordered on domestic violence and I can say first hand that it would have been devastating for me if I had gone to seek help only to be turned away because my relationship wasn’t a valid one in the eyes of society. Nowadays, I’d like to believe I’ve grown up to the point that, if someone where to treat me that way, I’d have no problem walking away from them. But it’s not always that easy. Republicans need some serious head work or something if they can’t see that we, just like other human beings, sometimes need the proper support to protect our physical and mental well-being.

  5. I was curious to see how they could POSSIBLY defend this/talk about this without sounding like complete assholes, and apparently (quoted at http://www.shakesville.com/2012/03/quote-of-day_15.html):

    Republicans say the measure, under the cloak of battered women, unnecessarily expands immigration avenues by creating new definitions for immigrant victims to claim battery. More important, they say, it fails to put in safeguards to ensure that domestic violence grants are being well spent. It also dilutes the focus on domestic violence by expanding protections to new groups, like same-sex couples, they say.

    “Protect the sanctity of traditional domestic violence!”—The GOP.

    So they are literally DEFINING domestic violence as violence within a heterosexual marriage, I guess?!
    I can’t even.

  6. you know that feeling after you eat lots of yummy pineapple and then your mouth and tongue sting all over from getting fiber cuts?
    yeah, this is how my brain feels like now. it just stings from republican ignorance being forced into it’s soft fatty tissue

  7. if you feel up to it, call your state representatives. I just called one of mine, and will call the other one when I can pull myself together. I had to leave a message, and I hope it is comprehensible because I was mostly crying, but seriously. If we call state reps, and they hear real personal stories about how this legislation effects Real lives, I have to hope that maybe, just maybe, they’ll realize how horrible they’re being.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. I’m currently living in Morocco so calling is not an option for me, but I just finished writing an e-mail to my state representative. I cannot fathom how they can possibly respond to real people explaining how this legislation hurts them in a way that isn’t just completely ludicrous. I have to hope that it can make a difference.

  8. If it’s so freakin’ necessary, why not pass it with the queer protections in? People who vote against it due to its underinclusiveness are monsters now, but the people who would not pass it in its previous form because it protected people they dislike get to claim the moral high ground? Grr… Temper tantrum replete with ineffectual squeaking and short-arc fist-shaking coming on…

  9. I heard about this on NPR, and I literally had to pace heatedly around my kitchen, flapping my arms angrily, and shouting, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? WHY ARE YOU ALL SUCH TERRIBLE PEOPLE? WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S OK FOR LGBT PEOPLE AND UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS AND NATIVE AMERICANS TO GET RAPED AND ABUSED? SERIOUSLY, ARE YOU DOING THIS JUST TO MAKE ME ANGRY?? BECAUSE I THINK YOU MIGHT BE.”

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