Raped Without Justice – Support the Violence Against Women Act
For nearly 20 years, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been authorized and reauthorized – twice – by Congress and signed by three different U.S. presidents into law. The latest reauthorization, though, has met some bumps. Guess where: House Republicans.
In late April, the Senate passed a reauthorization of the VAWA that included protections for LGBTQ and Native American survivors of violence – on a bipartisan vote. That reauthorization was not without it’s Tea Party attacks, though: Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Kay Bailey-Hutchinson (Texas) joined together for an amendment that modified or eliminated protections for female immigrants, Native women and those in same-sex relationships. It also would have eliminated the ability of tribal courts to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence. It failed.
Iowa has a fast-growing Native American population. Texas, given that it borders Mexico, has an extremely large immigrant population. Native American women violent crime at a rate three and a half times greater than the national average, while Grassley charged that tribal courts were “unconstitutional.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) also offered an amendment – wishing to increase mandatory minimum sentences. Advocates for the VAWA, though, didn’t support that amendment due to the believe that it would result in survivors of violence becoming more reluctant to report incidents. This, too, failed. No big government hypocrisy there/snark.
Certainly you can see how Kay, Chuck & John were looking out for their constituencies.
Well, the House Tea Party crowd – including Montana’s own Denny “don’t let the door hit ya’ where the good Lord split ya” Rehberg passed its own version of the VAWA, pulling back in the Senate Tea Party amendments – on a largely party-line vote.
Denny never did look out for Montanans. ‘Nuf said about that.
TOMORROW, Save Wiyabi, the Salish-Kootenai College’s chapter of the Native Youth Leadership Alliance, and Montana’s very fabulous Western Native Voice are sponsoring an action day in Pablo to raise awareness on the importance of the VAWA, and its importance to the Native American community.
The action begins at 11, with everyone meeting at 11 a.m. at the bridge on campus. Lauren Chief Elk, founder of the Wiyabi Project, is one of the speakers, and information will be available for those looking for more information.
The VAWA is important. It’s disturbing that, after so many years of bipartisan support, that this act protecting women has become a political football. That Tea Party Republicans (like Denny Rehberg) thought to remove protections for Native Americans, immigrants and lgbtq is even more repulsive.
Lauren Chief Elk wrote an excellent piece detailing the importance of the VAWA, especially to the Native American communities. It includes numerous informative links along with case law on the VAWA – I highly recommend it, especially for any legislator here in Montana that might want to attempt protections for women here at the state level.
My headline, you can see, was poached from her piece. What else do you call it when Tea Party Republicans refuse to reauthorize an act that has successfully reduced violence towards women for nearly 2 decades?
Finally, I will note – the Senate version of the VAWA reduced program funding by 17%.