Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) Opposed VAWA Because It Covered Too Many Groups

By Tim Peacock

Rep. Marsha Blackburn
Rep. Marsha Blackburn

It’s not often that a conservative will be so open about their prejudices (and how they allow those prejudices to influence their vote). On MSNBC yesterday though, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) showed her true colors when she spoke about her vote against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). She said of the vote:

When you start to make this about other things it becomes an “against violence act” and not a targeted focus act… I didn’t like the way it was expanded to include other different groups. What you need is something that is focused specifically to help the shelters and to help out law enforcement, who is trying to work with the crimes that have been committed against women and helping them to stand up.

Despite the fact that the VAWA still covered all of the same women it previously covered, and despite the fact that the major changes to the legislation only increased the number of people & groups eligible to receive assistance for domestic violence problems, Rep. Blackburn voted against the VAWA because she believed she was protecting women by voting against the legislation. Apparently, voting against a more inclusive act protected women more than allowing other at-risk groups the same protections.
Had the VAWA failed due to this backward logic, people like Blackburn would be culpable in every woman’s domestic abuse where the legislation could have helped her escape abuse. Were the legislation to have failed, she would also have the lives and abuses of each of the other groups on her back as well. Why?

Domestic abuse is abuse no matter who is being abused. Gay, straight, legal, undocumented, etc. – it doesn’t matter. No one victim is more deserving of protection over another, and trying to keep the legislation’s scope narrowed to just women because of the original name isn’t just ludicrous – it’s discriminatory. If the act had only meant to cover women only indefinitely, it wouldn’t have a sunset clause embedded (requiring Congress to discuss it periodically). We pass civil rights legislation with sunset clauses for two reasons: to determine if the legislation is still needed, and to discuss if any groups were originally excluded should be included in its re-authorization. This is definitely a case of the latter. 

One final thought: Blackburn thinks covering other groups – groups that include women (such as illegal immigrants and Native Americans) – “dilutes” the legislation. How exactly does protecting additional people from domestic violence dilute a law? If anything, it strengthens it since we don’t set different levels of abuse. Native American? LGBT? Undocumented immigrant? I’m sorry, your level of abuse isn’t covered by law – please go home and avoid the abuse until you can figure out a way to solve the situation on your own. That’s what Blackburn is saying when she claims being more inclusive “dilutes” domestic violence legislation.
Here’s the video of the interview where Blackburn admits she wants to set different levels of abuse (sort of like Republicans want to distinguish between different types/levels of rape):

About Tim Peacock:
For virtually his entire life, Tim has been writing. Over the years he’s dabbled in mainstream fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction, and personal essays. The one consistent thread through his entire writing career has been blogging – he’s been doing it since 1997 in one form or another. In creating Peacock Panache, he’s combined two of his favorite hobbies: blogging and current events/politics. When not working here, Tim toils away at editing & rewriting the novels he’s completed over the years. You can read samples of his other work here.

You can find Tim elsewhere online at his personal website. You can also find him on LinkedIn as well as on Twitter as @timsimms

Tim Peacock is the Managing Editor and founder of Peacock Panache and has worked as a civil rights advocate for over twenty years. During that time he’s worn several hats including leading on campus LGBT advocacy in the University of Missouri campus system, interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and volunteering at advocacy organizations. You can learn more about him at his personal website.


Loading Disqus Comments ...


Leave a Reply

Loading Facebook Comments ...