The Senate approved its version last month with bipartisan support. The vote was 68 to 31 with every female Republican supporting the measure. That bill would expand coverage for illegal immigrants and Native Americans who are victims of domestic abuse. It also specifies the inclusion of gay, lesbian and transgender victims.
Historically, the GOP has voted against and fought against the Violence Against Women Act for reasons that I have never understood. I have never understood why violence against women would be acceptable to them. We have long known that domestic violence is the hidden abuse because it is inside our homes, because the repercussions of reporting it are so great (loss of home, loss of family, loss of sense of belonging, loss of support in many cases, and feelings of guilt as if it was one's own fault), because it is long been thought that if it happens inside the home, it is off limits to public scrutiny (unless, of course, someone is gay). But at some point, the political tides became too powerful to oppose for them.House Republicans oppose those changes and stripped them from the Republican-backed bill that passed this week 222 to 205, largely splitting along party lines.
Now, the GOP is opposing addressing domestic violence when it relates to illegal immigrants (as if the status justifies allowing them to be abused), Native Americans (as if they are not worthy of the protections of other Americans), and gays, lesbians, and transgender victims (this may be the crux of this whole thing).
Side note that will make sense in a second. I just happened to watch Philadelphia (with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, if you haven't seen it, you should) today. As Tom Hanks' character, an up and coming, highly skilled lawyer gets fired after his high powered law firm finds out he has AIDS, he sues for wrongful termination. In the testimony and in conversation between the partners of the firm, it becomes clear that the termination is about their beliefs that it wasn't wrongful because his "immoral" acts justified any and all punishment that could be heaped upon him. In the end, Hanks' character wins his case because it was clearly discriminatory, having nothing to do with the issue... was he competent in his job. Their attitudes about gays and AIDS blurred their ability to see the issues.
This is a parallel track for most discrimination and is the case again. Whether it is the "immorality" of being an "illegal alien" or being someone who is gay, lesbian, or transgender is true or not is irrelevant to the issue of domestic violence, but it is what they will let get in the way. Their rationale will be that they don't deserve protections because of their "sins". But no one deserves to be abused. It is assault and battery no matter how you slice it.
It becomes even more obvious when one compares it to their support for child abuse laws. Why would the GOP support protecting children but not women, illegal immigrants, or the gay/lesbian/transgender community? Children are innocent, they are to be protected. It is the honorable thing to do. But that means that women were not innocent, nor are the rest. That means they must have done something to deserve the abuse in their minds. Yet, who deserves to be allowed to be abused? Child molesters? Murderers? Yet, there is no crime that these people have committed worthy of abuse. For those who are not illegal immigrants, there is no crime committed at all.
They are being condemned and left unprotected because they have exercised their liberty, their choice. That is the thing the founders fought for with documents like the Declaration of Independence, and their blood on the battlefield. They did not fight for a theocratic state, they fought for liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness. Homosexuality is not a new 20th century creation. It has been around for thousands of years, yet the founders did not ban it. They did not say liberty, justice, and pursuit of happiness for all straight people. It was for all.
The founders were not perfect by any means. But they did set a framework in place that understood they were imperfect, but that certain values of liberty and justice should remain in place. They created a process to address legal imperfections to uphold those values. That is exactly where the Senate got this right, and the GOP led House has it wrong.
It is irrelevant whether homosexuality is genetic or choice, the founders envisioned a nation where people would have the liberty to do what they wanted so long as it did not infringe on the liberties of others. There is no reason why the gay, lesbian, and transgender community should be punished for engaging in those very same beliefs... the liberty to do what they want so long as they do not infringe upon the liberties of others.
Some feel the need to proclaim us a "moral" society and admonish immoral acts. In one sense, laws are just that. However, our founders set the framework for that moral system by focusing it not on The Bible or religion, but rather on liberty and justice. They could have determined this to be a theocratic republic (after all, most were religious on some level as most were at the time), yet they chose not to.
This is an issue where all who believe in those values of liberty and justice should support this cause for the simple reason that it puts in place support systems to help people escape situations where others have imposed their will to restrict the liberty of others through domestic violence. Putting these protections in place is an important step in protecting people and their liberty from those who would use force to harm the liberty of others.
To use the religion of Christianity or others to condemn those who seek to exercise liberty is both antithetical to those foundational values of America, and un-Christian (can you picture Jesus turning his back on a sinner who was being abused or beaten, say like a prostitute who would have been condemned as immoral at the time? Me either).
So the question remains, why does the GOP oppose putting supports in place to help end domestic violence? I still don't understand that reality.