Make no mistake. By refusing to support re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC-7) will be tacitly supporting domestic violence in a state where violence against women has reached epidemic proportions.
How can they justify casting “No” votes on this crucial legislation? Is it simply partisan politics combined with the power of the National Rifle Association (NRA), or do they truly feel women do not need adequate protection?
Domestic violence has been categorized as a Hate Crime, which requires harsher penalties for those convicted. This protection is a key component to the Violence Against Women Act. Since its enactment in 1994, it has continually been opposed by Republicans. Yet, these same Republicans are quick to chastise countries, particularly Islamic nations, who don’t fully support women’s rights and encourage domestic abuse. Graham and Rice have been staunch allies in this approach.
Voting against the reauthorization is nothing new for Senator Graham. He has been consistent in his opposition since President Clinton signed it into law. In 2000, 2005 and 2013, he voted against its reauthorization. He has already cast votes that parallel the Trump administration’s anti-immigration stance. If he votes against re-authorization, it will be because certain provisions support immigrants’ rights.
Should this be a reason to remove such protections from his South Carolina constituents?
But what about Tom Rice? Graham’s loyalty to Trump is well documented with his multiple golf outings and echoing of administration policies, even when they have been contrary to his previous positions. But, the congressman offers a different rationale.
As reported on his official web page, Rice sees the law as infringing on the rights of legal gun owners, despite the fact that 95 percent of the women who are victims of domestic violence are by someone they know, primarily, legal gun owners. Rice has already cast his “no” vote, telling us where his loyalties lie. Like so many Republicans, he has chosen the NRA over the safety of the women of South Carolina.
Prior to the vote for re-authorization in the House of Representatives last week, the NRA notified Congressmen that their vote would count in the NRA’s “gun” ratings and urged lawmakers to oppose the bill. Why? It extends existing gun ownership restrictions on spouses convicted of domestic violence to boyfriends. Are you any less dead if you’re murdered by your boyfriend rather than your husband? Doesn’t matter. Rice voted no.
What motivates these two to support such deplorable stances? While they claim their possible opposition isn’t partisan, they may also stand with other Republicans in demanding “a clean bill” that denies women further protections.
If they chose to vote against reauthorization, as Rice already has, they will have chosen to stand with the abusers. Their stances ensure that South Carolina will continue to be at the bottom of those states where violence against women continues to be a major issue. South Carolina has the distinction of being the deadliest state for women for the past 21 years. It is a sad legacy that will continue so long as these two remain in office.
It’s time to Take a Stand.