Other Views: House sees light, votes to protect women

March 2, 2013 

Finally, House votes

It took more than a year, but lawmakers back women

This editorial appeared Friday in the Los Angeles Times:

After more than a year of bitter partisan fighting, Congress on Thursday finally reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, including new provisions that will extend the law's protections for gay, lesbian, transgender and Native American victims of domestic violence. It's about time.

There is no rational explanation for why lawmakers took so long to reauthorize this legislation, which was first enacted in 1994 and had been renewed twice with broad bipartisan support. Admittedly, the revised law covers a broader group of victims. That was apparently too much for some Republicans in the House, who sought to substitute a weaker bill for the one passed by the Senate, arguing that the new protections either went too far or were prone to fraud.

What the newly reauthorized legislation will actually do is provide help to all victims of domestic violence regardless of their sexual orientation, immigration status or where the assault took place. It will, for example, expand the authority of tribal courts over non-Native American men who commit assault or rape on reservations. That's important because Native American women are 2½ times more likely to be raped than those in the general population, yet if they are assaulted on Indian land by a non-Native American, their only recourse is to plead their case to overworked federal prosecutors, who often allow such allegations to fall through the cracks.

The expanded act will provide protections to same-sex couples. It will preserve the protection given to undocumented women by allowing them to apply for a special permit, known as a U visa, which provides temporary legal status to victims who help police investigate crimes. And it will toughen penalties for sex trafficking.

Whether House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, was persuaded to relent and bring the bill to the floor as part of a political strategy to improve the GOP's tarnished image with women voters, or because he actually came to believe that the good in the bill outweighed the bad, isn't important. In the end, what matters is that the House, for at least a moment, overcame its partisan dysfunction. And that victims of domestic violence and abuse will once again be protected by the law.

Editor's note: All three members of Alaska's congressional delegation, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and Rep. Don Young, voted for the act.

BOTTOM LINE: It took too long, but House does the right thing to protect women.

Anchorage Daily News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service