Thursday, January 3, 2013

House Lets Violence Against Women Act Die (But Is Poised to Renew Funds to Defend DOMA)

Also in not-to-be-missed U.S. political news: as Laura Bassett and Jennifer Bendery report at Huffington Post, the Republican-led House of Representatives has just refused to advance the Senate's reauthorization of the Violence Against Women act, which has been in force since 1994. Before its term ended, the House let the bill die without a vote.

As Abby Zimet writes at Common Dreams, 

Despite the fact that for 18 years Democrats and even Republicans have agreed it's a good thing to fund programs to combat domestic violence against women, the House has refused to renew a Violence Against Women Act that was expanded to include immigrant, LGBT and Native American victims because....ummm, actually, we don't know why, nor can we begin to imagine what possible justification they can even attempt to summon up in their wee little brains, though they've undoubtedly managed to concoct something. These people are contemptible.

But as Charles Blow points out in his statement on the fiscal cliff deal to which I just linked in my previous posting, even as the Republicans in the House remain monomaniacally fixated on resisting new taxes for the super-rich and on starving the beast of government, they continue their culture-war attacks on minority groups including women and LGBT people. They do because culture-war issues continue to have utilitarian value as the party rallies its base, and because (as Blow notes very well) minority groups like women and gays represent a symbolic threat to the power of the constituencies who dominate the GOP.

Which lives in "fear of a future in which income, wealth and cultural inequalities dissipate and traditional power structures dissolve". . . . And so, even as House Republicans have been creating mightily about putting the brake on federal expenses and have refused to bring the Violence Against Women act up for a vote, the brand-new GOP-led 113th Congress is poised to reauthorize the 112th Republican-led Houses's Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to fight to protect the Defense of Marriage Act from legal challenges.

In other words, under the leadership of Speaker Boehner, the House has been willing to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to hire a team of high-powered lawyers to defend anti-gay discrimination. And the next House, which will also almost certainly be under Boehner's leadership, appears eager to reauthorize those lavish funds to allow high-powered lawyers to advise Congress about how to keep discriminating against the gays.

Under the leadership of Boehner the Catholic--and so back around, full-circle, to those observations of my penultimate posting here, about how the Catholic church is now succeeding at rebranding itself as all about something other than kindness, compassion, and love. And as a singular threat to plain old humane values . . . . 

The graphic: GOP House Speaker Boehner with U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops president Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Republican National Convention, 2012. The photo is a Reuters photo from Robert Crook's blog at Open Salon.

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