By: Nicole Lashomb*/TRT Editor-in-Chief–
For the first time since its enactment in 1994, last year’s 112th Congress failed to pass a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, VAWA. Historically, this bill has effortlessly passed Republican, Democratic and bipartisan led Congresses, until now. Despite overwhelming support and passage of the bill by the Democratic-led Senate, House Republican leadership denounced it by refusing to bring the measure to a vote on the floor, notwithstanding efforts by Vice President Joe Biden. According to a report by the Huffington Post, the embattled bill would have extended domestic violence protections to 30 million LGBT individuals, undocumented immigrants and Native American women. The mere thought that majority Republicans in the House believe that even a fraction of domestic violence victims should be left without protections is deplorable and certainly un-American. Hopefully, the thousands of women and other minority groups and their allies will remember this lack of action on the Republican’s behalf when it comes time to vote again for Congressional leadership, or in this case, lack-there-of.
Never has there been a time of greater hostility toward American sub-cultures as there is today. It is a power struggle for the “majority” that has been in power throughout the history of our country, thereby controlling the legislative process to keep themselves at the top and everyone else at the bottom. It is about the old ideas vs. the new ones and the tolerant vs. the intolerant. It is about equal liberty, a concept that has been forgotten by those who lead; a concept that should be bestowed to all Americans. Minority groups are gaining great strides. Likewise, there has never been a time where such diversity is represented in Congress, municipal and Federal positions. And with that advancement, comes fear and an internal power conflict. That is why the House Republican leadership refused to let VAWA come to a vote. They knew it would pass, even other Republicans strongly expressed support of it. But the leadership halted its progress with deliberate intent. The leadership predicts their ship is about to sink. America is changing. It is time that all of our elected leaders do as well.
VAWA is a public and social health issue as it designates the acceptable national response to sexual and domestic violence. Due to the passage of this human rights bill in 1994, the United States Department of Justice cited a significant reduction in these types of crimes. Without the House voting on this bill and allowing it to perish in Congress, what message does that send to women or other victims of domestic abuse? What message does that send to the Native Americans, LGBTs and immigrants? What value has that assigned to all of us? What message do we want to send back to them?
But there is hope. The New Year brings a newly elected Congress.
The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women will continue to push for the law’s return in 2013, according to a statement released by the organization.
“The U.S. House of Representatives continued to voice strong opposition to offering basic protections to certain vulnerable populations…,” the task force wrote. “There is no time to waste in addressing the needs of victims. We call on the 113th Congress to act immediately on VAWA this month and pass a bill that safely and effectively meets the needs of all victims.”
Unfortunately, John Boehner (R) and Eric Cantor (R) are still at the helm of the Republican House enterprise. I say it’s about time that ship sinks and the captains should go down with it.
*Nicole Lashomb is TRT’s Editor-in-Chief. She holds an MBA from Marylhurst University and a Bachelors from SUNY Potsdam. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.