Senate Dems Push for Quick Renewal of Violence Against Women Act, Which Republicans Inexplicably Oppose

Violence against women = bad, right? Right?? Who could possibly oppose a bill meant to protect survivors of domestic violence?

Republicans, that's who. As the New York Times' Jonathan Weisman reports, Democratic women are planning to march to the Senate floor today to demand the swift renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, a law that was passed during the Clinton administration to support domestic violence programs. Here's what the renewed law would accomplish, via the Times:

The legislation would continue existing grant programs to local law enforcement and battered women shelters, but would expand efforts to reach Indian tribes and rural areas. It would increase the availability of free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, extend the definition of violence against women to include stalking, and provide training for civil and criminal court personnel to deal with families with a history of violence. It would also allow more battered illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas, and would include same-sex couples in programs for domestic violence.

At the time the legislation was originally passed, in 1994, it had broad bipartisan support. But today, some Republicans oppose the law, putting them in the awkward (and morally reprehensible) position of being anti-anti-violence against women. Why? Because the legislation could "[expand] 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."

God forbid we support immigrant and gay victims of domestic violence too!

The good news here is that the Republicans' move just paints them as more anti-woman than ever. With Repubs attacking women's rights left and right -- contraception, abortion, etc. -- this could be a fatal blow for a party that needs women voters come November. Republicans know this, and it's making them nervous. Again, the Times:

At a closed-door Senate Republican lunch on Tuesday, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska sternly warned her colleagues that the party was at risk of being successfully painted as antiwoman — with potentially grievous political consequences in the fall, several Republican senators said Wednesday.

So how 'bout Republicans stop playing political games (which won't help them in the long run anyway) and do the right thing for domestic violence victims?

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at March 15, 2012, 6:10am

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