VAWA: Once Bipartisan, it is now a ‘war on women’ tool

BettyJean Downing

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a bipartisan bill, which first passed in 1994 and has been reauthorized twice since then, increased federal penalties for domestic violence and provided funding for groups and services that aid victims of domestic abuse. The bill hit the bipartisan sweet spot of being both tough on crime and oriented toward women’s rights. Usually it’s reauthorized without much fanfare. This time around, however, several Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), are putting up a fight. Despite the fact that the bill has several Republican sponsors, all eight GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee voted against the bill when the committee considered it last month.( Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and James Risch (R-ID))
VAWA’s reauthorization bill that protects victims of domestic violence has been stalled because of the insertion of additional provisions that were added to the original bill. Additions include undocumented immigrants, as well as LGBT and Native American victims of domestic violence. Congress failed to reauthorize the amended bill by the end of 2012, and the Senate is now considering the same legislation again, in its new legislative session.
All of the women in the Senate, with the exception of Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), co-sponsored the legislation. If it passes the Senate it will go to the house where it is expected to face tougher scrutiny.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what has the GOP riled up. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/republicans-violence-against-women-act
1- Tribal law: The current version of the Violence Against Women Act would allow tribal authorities to prosecute non-Indians for domestic violence cases on Indian reservations, but Republicans are opposing it because they don’t like the idea of Native American law applying to non-tribe members.
2- Immigration: The original Violence Against Women Act contained provisions that allow undocumented victims of domestic violence to apply for legal status, called a U visa, if they agree to cooperate with law enforcement.
3- LGBT rights: “I agree that shelters and other grant recipients should provide services equally to everyone,” said Grassley. “But advocates of this provision haven’t produced data that shelters have refused to provide services for these reasons.” He added that the nondiscrimination provisions were “a political statement that shouldn’t be made on a bill that is designed to address actual needs of victims.”
Here is another example of the real war against women- changing a reauthorization they know would have sailed through was designed to use women in order to hurt the other party:
Clearly a clean bill without the new provisions would have been reauthorized immediately, apparently one party is again using women to start a fight with the other party at women’s expense. Pass the bill as is without adding these three extra’s that are purposely holding up the bill so the Elephants in the room can be blamed for refusing to pass the bill. Clearly the Jackasses are responsible for this! Isn’t it time politicians stop the war on women as a tool to fight each other. Enough we are not a political tool – we are the majority and we deserve better.
Women we must stand up and demand that we will no longer tolerate being used on any level. Unite against this! Call your representatives and demand they reauthorize the original bill and deal with the other issues separately. VAWA must be reauthorized NOW!

It’s about EQUALITY

BettyJean Downing

Women Organized Motivated Empowered Nationwide can change this injustice- we just need to get fired up and get it done

Women Organized Motivated Empowered Nationwide

I get weary trying to figure out a new and different way to say – “It’s about EQUALITY”, How many different ways can one present such a simple concept? If you are a liberal you claim to understand this principle,  yet you are intolerant of a multitude of persons and ideals of half of your countrypersons.  If you are a conservative, likewise you claim to know God and follow his precept that All Men (and women) are created equal, yet you treat the majority of our citizens as beneath you at best.

What a conundrum the two party system has inflicted upon our nation, successfully offering a supposedly free nation two options and only two, which are diametrically opposed yet the same in terms of standing as an antithesis to the precepts the Constitution was written to promote. Such is the frailty of mankind. Womankind, on the other hand, seems helpless to grab the brass ring.

I must admit, when I witness the vote results, I often ponder why we allow everyone to vote, and I can easily understand why the founders elected to restrict the vote to those with enough sense to understand what they were actually voting for. Initially, the founders were interested in creating a country greater than the sum of its parts, a country free from oppression, freedom to worship so that no one would be burdened by the religious dogma of another. And yet here we are with part of the country hopelessly liberal and another part that tries to bully everyone into practicing their religious, personal, and moral beliefs. Our Constitution states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion—that means either for or against. Congress and the legal process is to be silent regarding religion! Only then are we guaranteed freedom from government sanctioned religious or anti-religious oppression.

Neither side will change the other so why are we fighting losing battles? We do it for the sport of the political parties and for no other reason. In these battles only the politicians get fat! In terms of good for the country, we need to go back to the basics. The founders understood that mankind, if left to their own devices, is selfish and would vote for themselves rather than the good of the country. I will not bore you with a lengthy list of quotes to that effect nor will I remind you of the promises politicians make just to win elections.

Let’s consider for a moment America, the land of the free, two hundred years ago verses 2013. Briefly, the freedom desired was from the oppressive reign of a King, freedom of religion, and freedom from the oppression of an almost caste system that prevented upward societal mobility. Learned men fought and died to form a more perfect union offering opportunity to all. But where blacks, women, and Indians etc., were concerned, the Constitution did not apply at that time. But, the American Constitution, presented by brilliant men, formed a Republic that gave citizens an opportunity to evolve and perfect over time. The framers of our Constitution warned of greed and included checks and balances to protect American rights and freedoms. They warned that freedom would be hard to keep because mankind is (in my words) selfish!

America was the first successful Revolution to remain free to date, and just as freedom was difficult to gain and keep, many Americans have continued to fight for equality, and we are making slow gains. What part of equality do we still not understand that we understood when we passed the 13th amendment?

To say that black men were entitled to the same status as white men but to totally ignore all women—the majority of the population—was ludicrous at best. Then to wait 50 more years to give women the vote and still not spell out they are citizens in that Constitution is criminal, and to deny women equality under that Constitution, even as it has been amended to include all others besides the majority, is unfathomable.

Our discrimination laws do not include sex! In other words, there are serious legal consequences for discriminating against anyone, unless she is a white woman. Fortunately, if she is black, gay, Latino, Islamic, or some minority she may—and I say MAY have some recourse, if she is lucky enough to catch the eye of the ACLU—If not, she, like the rest of the majority of our nation, is out of luck. Why? We women—52% of the population—have no Constitutional rights! Our government forced Iraq to set up equal rights for women in the Constitution but does not grant its own women the same. Our government forced Japan to do the same, in 1945, but has refused American women since we asked for ERA in the 1970’s.

If you think the ACLU is on your side—think again! If you think either political party is on your side, think again. If you think a woman’s group from either side is on your side, think again! Where are they when women need them to save lives? Where is either side when women need them? Who is standing up against violence against women in a meaningful way? Is that the banner they carry? Was it front and center on anyone’s platform lately? Which party is promoting ERA on their platform? Which party is promoting stronger laws to protect all women or educate them about all of their rights in matters of life and death? Who is educating mothers on our rights to our children in our courts? Who is helping us when we are destitute and facing divorce against a powerful abuser who wants to take our children and a corrupt court system that turns a blind eye?  I say we need more than birth control pills and abortions—we need equality. We need for abusers to know they will be prosecuted. We need stronger laws and fair pay, not just the right to sue if we find out we were not paid fairly. Power still lies in the hands of some male lobbies in our family courts. Our women and children are still the most vulnerable and the least protected in this the 21st Century.

Those who stand up and fight for rights are the ones who are heard:

An example of what is in Congress right now:

Gang of Eight Framework for Immigration Reform

“The framework is designed to satisfy the demands of illegal aliens and their advocates, and business interests that want more cheap labor. It includes nothing that would benefit law-abiding American workers and taxpayers. American taxpayers will be saddled with staggering costs in the future as millions of poorly skilled illegal aliens become eligible for government services and programs.PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1z3ym)

In the news right now:

 “The pulse of equality is strong in America, and today it beats a bit faster with news that the Boy Scouts may finally put an end to its long history of discrimination,” said Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, a major gay-rights group.

While there is still a long way to go for many others, we women have stepped up over the centuries to work toward equality and civil rights for others. Isn’t it time that we step up and ask that we as a group be counted, and ask that others support us?

We are the majority, and yet we as “women” we are the only group that is not covered under the Constitution nor protected from hate crimes, or protected from discriminatory language. That means we just don’t count in America! Whose fault is that? It is our own fault. As the majority we have successfully fought for, and won, many battles for minority groups—now it is our turn to stand up and ask for our equal rights too! Women, we must stand up and demand that we will no longer tolerate inequality on any level.

We need 3 more states to ratify the ERA—get involved. It is about EQUALITY! We have been complacent long enough. ERA now!

We need to elect her BUT … Hold her feet to the fire.

BettyJean Downing

As founder of The Majority United (TMU) I get to chat with  many women across the nation about  various issues affecting them . Because TMU is a non partisan organization, women from both sides of the aisle freely express their concerns and we at TMU are in the position to hear how they see things from a political perspective.

The longer I listen to women and how the  two parties have polarized women against their sisters along liberal and conservative ideology the more I am convinced we need our own political party. A party dedicated to equality to all and concerned for the welfare of women and children in general terms rather than narrow special interests. All women deserve equality under the Constitution for example. All women deserve equal pay for equal work and for that matter equal opportunity toward qualifying for any work they chose and qualify to do. All women deserve to be treated with due respect and enjoy the pursuit of happiness without fear of sexual harassment, intimidation, retribution or duress. All women deserve to be free of sexualization by the government, courts, or the media.

As it stands now- we have little representation considering we are the majority of the citizenry and what representation we have is divided along party lines nevermore to be for the benefit of all women. Female representatives are forced to played the all boys club rules or face a fate worse than death. Our halls of justice, seats of power and the like are filled with women who have learned to play the game rather than actually represent womankind. Instead they tow the party line which plies women with narrow promises tailored to keep women in their place. Crumbs are given out to each party’s women in increments enough to keep them quiet.

Women have more in common then they have to fight about and yet the political parties  fail to serve women  on the very issues that matter most, instead they keep them fighting over the most divisive issues.

Evidently it is advantageous for the two parties to keep the majority divided against itself, however, it is clearly damaging to women as a group.  Every other group no matter how large or small enjoys camaraderie and fights for the rights of the group as a whole except women! Instead woman is satisfied to join a minority group or groups and fight for the civil  rights of anything but the majority.

Ironically, in these small groups they manage to win and win big- IMAGINE what they could accomplish as the majority?

Another election will find us voting for women but will we vote on party lines yet again? Sure we will and we will not hold her feet to the fire even though we- as the majority can rule the nation – if only we had the sense to stand together. Female representation stands at about 17%, we deserve 50 %, and what good would it do us if they are just as divided as the men are, and if they are just as deaf, dumb and blind to women’s needs as the men are?

Yes – it is time to vote for more women. Regardless of party vote women into office but before you do – tell them we expect no less than representation of all women from them. No more politics as usual- we want ERA on the table front and center. We want non-partisan politics that serves the nations women not the politicians that are there to serve not be served.

Will Hillary run? Perhaps! Will I vote for her? Probably! Until we get a new party – it doesn’t matter which of these two is in office, they  are two wings of the same party. It’s up to us to demand representation for all our women instead of one half or the other.

Vote for women but hold her feet to the fire!