Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rep. Guinta is OK with violence against some women

Frank Guinta is very proud of voting to renew the Violence Against Women Act.   He sent around an email entitled "Frankly Speaking: Keeping Protection in Place -- Renewing the Violence Against Women Act."    You might think from that title that, with Frank Guinta's support, Congress has renewed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), extending into the future the protections it affords, for which we are all better off.    Nothing in the rest of the rather long email would dissuade you of this.

It turns out to be totally wrong.

Joe Biden wrote VAWA, which first passed in 1994.  VAWA is a bipartisan sucess story, breezing through renewals with bipartisan support over its two decades.   The current authorization expired in September, 2011.

On April 26, 2012 the Senate passed S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011.   All the Democrats and a third of the Republicans, including all the women, voted for it.  The House had the opportunity to simply pass the Senate version, which the president would sign and things would go on in their bipartisan way, pretty much the same as always. 

But the Tea Party dominated House had a problem with the Senate's version.   It protected too many women.   It protected the wrong kinds of women.  It protects immigrants.  It protects lesbians.  It protects bisexuals.  It protects the transgendered.  It protects Native Americans.  We can't have that!

So the House passed its own version of VAWA, without all those protections that might help the wrong kinds of women.    The president has threatened to veto the house bill, should it reach his desk.   At this point the renewal has not been passed by congress.    The two chambers' bills await reconciliation, which appears to be stalled.

This is an example of Frank Guinta claiming he's doing something, when all he's doing is passing bills that will not become law.   He could have chosen to support the senate bill, which was truly bipartisan, authored by the liberal Patrick Leahy and the conservative Mike Crapo.   But instead, he went along with the effort to scuttle the bill.   Hey, the house bill got 6 of 190 Democrats to vote for it.   In Frank's book, that's an incredible show of bipartisanship.

The Christian Science Monitor has a balanced explanation of the difference between the two bills:

  • The Senate adds language that explicitly mentions gay and transgender Americans for protection, while the House version is gender neutral. Republicans contend that their measure allows all Americans to receive protection because it does not specify who qualifies for various programs. Democrats, however, say that local law enforcement could use the lack of specificity to discriminate against gay or transgender people.
  •  The House bill does not include a Senate provision that would allow Native American women to take American citizens who abuse them to court within the tribal legal system. Republicans say that the Senate measure is unconstitutional and replace it with a proposal that allows Native American women to apply for protection orders from local US courts. Democrats contend that without the Senate’s proposals, Native American women abused on an Indian reservation are often left without legal recourse. 
  • The House bill does not allow for a path to citizenship for illegal women who have been abused and agree to cooperate with the police investigation of the crime. Moreover, it holds the cap on temporary visas offered to women cooperating in legal investigations to 10,000, below the Senate’s increased 15,000 level. Republicans say the citizenship provision is akin to amnesty for illegal immigrants. Democrats, on the other hand, say that women fearing deportation may never come forward to take abusers off the street under the House bill.

I call the last one the "Husbands, Beat Your Mail-Order Brides With Impunity" law.  Right now there's a special program that shelters abused women whose immigration status depends on staying with their abuser.   Think of all the money the feds will save because abused brides will no longer seek protection, because if their marriage ends they'll be deported.   Thanks for fighting for my freedom to beat my mail-order bride, Rep. Guinta.   And thanks for the free shipping to send her back.

Much as the Republican Party wants to deem only women raped in a particular way ("forcible rape" or "legitimate rape") to be worthy of an abortion, they want to choose only certain women to be worthy of the protection of the law.   Rep. Guinta, if you actually want to be bipartisan, instead of just claiming bipartisanship without working with the other party, get your colleagues in the House to pass the Senate version of VAWA.















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