Senate

Senate Passes Violence Against Women Act

Senators took up a few amendments to the bill. They voted 93 to 5 to include a provision targeting human trafficking, and 100 to 0 on a provision to ensure child victims of sex trafficking are eligible for grant assistance. They rejected amendments by Coburn to consolidate certain Department of Justice programs and to allow grants for sexually transmitted disease tests on sexual assault perpetrators.

Overall, I think it’s good that the bill is now headed to the House. But for the sake of balance, I also think it’s worth considering some reasons Senators may have opposed the bill. A few of them are stupid, like not wanting to extend protection to LGBT people or worrying about fringe cases like a non-citizen falsely accusing his spouse of abuse to gain residency upon their divorce. But some concerns are legitimate, even though I don’t think they’re dealbreakers. For example:

The act’s grants have encouraged states to implement “mandatory-arrest” policies, under which police responding to domestic-violence calls are required to make an arrest. These policies were intended to combat the too-common situation in which a victim is intimidated into recanting an abuse accusation, or officers defer to the “man of the house” and fail to take an abuse claim seriously. But… critics say mandatory-arrest laws can backfire. A 2007 study found that states with such laws saw increases in intimate-partner homicides—perhaps because they made victims, who may have wanted the police to intervene without making an arrest, less likely to report abuse before it could escalate out of control.

Grassley Amendment on VAWA Dies

An amendment to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) proposed by Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) has failed yesterday on a 65 to 34 Senate vote. The proposed amendment would have removed protections for LGBT victims of domestic violence, allow for new restrictions on U visas given to immigrant victims of domestic violence, prevented tribal courts from prosecuting non-Native defendants who are accused of assaulting Native women on tribal lands, and would even eliminate the language “woman” from the largest grant program within VAWA.

Good job it failed, then. What would be the point of passing a bill like this if all the teeth are going to be removed from it?

Oh. Right.

No, It’s Not Time To Forgive Todd Akin

Just for the sake of balance, let me say that I agree with Amy Tennery’s conclusion but not her rationale:

We can’t forgive Akin because there are people (lots of them, in fact) who still don’t understand what he said is fundamentally wrong.

Forgiveness should be based on sincere remorse (which Akin hasn’t shown, in my opinion), not on whether the effects of the offense have diminished to our liking.

Todd Akin Asks For "Forgiveness"

Todd Akin needs everyone’s (or at least Missouri’s) forgiveness for his terrible, unscientific comments about rape because he is not planning to heed the calls of GOP leaders and peers to drop out of his Senate race:

“The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy… The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.”

I don’t think anyone is going to believe this. Akin’s record of redefining rape extends beyond this event. If he wanted to make a believable apology, he should have said “I accept that I was wrong”, not “I misspoke”.