The Violence Against Women Act was passed for the first time, in 1994. Since its initial adoption, reporting of domestic violence has increased by 51%. The legislation, which must be periodically renewed improved the nation’s response to domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Advocates say that it has been pivotal in tamping down violence against women. Yet, despite it’s importance, this crucial piece of legislation is poised to fail in the U.S. Senate.
Republicans are threatening to refuse reauthorization because the new version of the Violence Against Women Act includes LGBT (Gay/Lesbian) Couples. The bill also includes a provision from the SAVE Native American Women Act, which allows tribes to prosecute Indian and Non-Indian offenders in domestic violence cases. Adding to the list of Republican complaints against the new Violence Against Women Act, are its extension of protection for female illegal aliens. The provision provides visas for undocumented victims of domestic violence to encourage them to come forward when they are abused by alleviating the fear of deportation.
The Republicans have faced an avalanche of recent criticism, for their policies effecting women. This latest maneuver is unlikely to curry favor with women. Critics have accused the Republicans of waging an all out WAR AGAINST WOMEN and they will likely use the Republican opposition to the Violence Against Women Act, as more ammunition in their attacks on the GOP. The culmination of the GOP’s controversial policies have created a popular perception that threatens to permanently brand the party.
If the politics of the issue are not in the Republican Party’s favor, the facts of the issue are also working against the GOP. The GOP’s stated reasons for opposing the bill fail to stand up to inspection. The “controversial” provision covering illegal aliens was in previous versions of the bill. The only change in the new bill increases the number of visas available for abused women, from 10,000 (in the previous versions) to 15,000. It is unlikely that voters will accept the notion that the slight increase in visas, justifies blocking an otherwise worthwhile bill. The additional provisions protecting Native American Women were also once bi-partisan suggestions.
The final provision including Gay and Lesbian couples leaves the Republicans in the difficult position of arguing that Gays and Lesbians, shouldn’t be protected from the violence of spouses or intimates. Considering the dangers to women (should the Violence Against Women Act fail) the Republicans must ask themselves, if opposing the provision that protects LGBT individuals from violence, warrants lending credence to the mounting charges that the GOP is at War with Women.