Safety and security in our homes, workplaces and communities must be above politics. These are not Democratic or Republican issues. They are universal and sacred. That’s why, 20 years ago this week, Congress passed into law the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with strong bipartisan sponsors and votes.
VAWA has had lasting and significant effects. Intimate-partner violence has significantly decreased in America. The justice system and services to victims have greatly improved. Nevertheless, domestic violence and sexual assault remain vastly under-reported crimes. And our work toward ending sexual assault and domestic violence is nowhere near done.
That is why I found it to be so troubling that Congressman Steve Southerland voted in 2013 against re-authorizing VAWA. Never before had this bipartisan law been dragged into the mud of single party-based opposition. It was outrageous and shameful.
Southerland and other Republicans voted for a watered-down version of the bill that actually took away support for victims. He did not join his Republican colleagues to support the stronger Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. Claiming that he did so now is misleading and just plain wrong.
Southerland should explain why he voted against protecting women and families here in Florida and across the country in favor of petty party politics.
VAWA and its protections for women, children and all families is a sacred trust for our elected leaders. If Southerland will play politics with that trust, what else are we at risk of losing?
ROBIN HASSLER THOMPSON
Former executive director, Florida Governor’s Task Force on Domestic and Sexual Violence
Let’s not go back to the 12th century
Re: “This is dirty politics” (letter, Sept. 9).
Although I understand Julie Tomlinson’s desire to defend her husband, his campaign event for Congressman Southerland was offensive, insulting and disrespectful.
Women have made progress, but not without having to push hard against male-dominated power structures. Anyone who thinks that opportunities for women are equal to those for men need only look to who runs Fortune 500 companies and even the Congress of the United States; we are half of the population, but only a small percentage of those in charge.
There may be many complex reasons for why women are not running the world today, but one of them is that power is still largely in the hands of men and they are not ready to give it up.
I am not a man-hater; my husband is the best man on this earth, and many of my closest friends are outstanding men.
But women will continue to be treated as second-class citizens, especially in the workplace, if men continue to network at political galas featuring whiskey, cigars and the Knights of the Round Table. An invitation to a 2014 political event that fondly invokes the 12th century and the paternalistic governance of “good men sitting around discussing & solving political & social problems over fine food & drink …” is unforgiveable.
Didn’t Hugh Tomlinson know any intelligent, accomplished women who could participate? Congressman Southerland cannot control the inappropriate behavior of his supporters, but he can refuse to attend events such as this. And as for “dirty politics,” many people were outraged about the event, and there was nothing feigned about that reaction.