It’s been six months since I first wrote about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the House and Senate versions of the bill still have yet to be reconciled. Yes, that’s six months in which Republicans and Democrats cannot agree to renew legislation that had made a huge impact in reducing violence against women and that has had bipartisan support since 1994. The political deadlock surrounding this bill is absurd – and it just gives the Democrats yet another chance to bring home why women should vote for Obama and Biden this fall.
Obama has a huge asset in Joe Biden as he tries to get the message across that the Democratic Party is the party that supports women, and this is an area where Joe Biden especially gets a lot of love from me. VAWA has always been his baby, and no one can accuse Biden of pandering to women on this issue – he’s been working tirelessly to end violence against women since 1994. On Thursday, Biden released a statement urging Congress to renew the bill, saying that “VAWA is just as important today as it was when it first became law, and I urge Congress to keep the promise we made to our daughters and our granddaughters on that day—that we would work together to keep them safe.”
In July, Biden released the “1 is 2 Many” PSA starring himself, David Beckham, Jeremy Lin, Eli Manning, and the president himself. In the PSA, these male role models say that “no woman should ever have to fear violence, especially from someone they know and trust.” This bystander intervention approach, focusing on changing men’s behavior instead of addressing women who are victimized, is right on target.
Biden has also gotten a lot of criticism from Catholic leaders for his adamant pro-choice stance, saying that he personally accepts the church’s stance on abortion but “for me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society.” His perspective is a refreshing change from the absurd claims of the USCCB and the conservative establishment last spring that Catholic religious freedom hinges on denying everyone else access to contraception and abortion. Biden supports Obama’s unapologetic adamance that women have the right to make their own healthcare decision.
Compare that to Paul Ryan’s horrific record on issues of choice, contraception, rape, and even fair pay. Yes, Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He opposes all abortions with no exceptions, he co-sponsored a “personhood” amendment, and he supports defunding Planned Parenthood. He also voted to pass the House version of VAWA that removes protections and programs for LBGT, Native American, and immigrant populations affected by violence against women.
Obama and Biden are feminist allies, no question, and they’ve made a point in this election to make sure we know that. For me, it’s no question to vote based on the issues of abortion, contraception, violence against women, and fair pay, because these are the issues that affect my life on the most basic level – my right to physical safety and autonomy. Everything else is secondary. Joe Biden, thanks for having my back.