I am a queer woman. Just because I enter into relationships with other women doesn’t mean that the threat of violence disappears. Men aren’t inherently abusers, and women aren’t inherently abused. No one hits someone for the sake of hitting a woman or hitting a man. Violence is rarely about the gender or sexuality of the individuals involved. It’s about power, money, control.
While intimate partner violence doesn’t care about your sexuality or gender, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives does. In a butchered substitute of the Senate-backed Violence Against Women Act, GOP leaders have removed provisions that could help extend resources to LGBTQ individuals. In fact, the subject of intimate partner violence among LGBTQ couples has been erased from their substitute bill.
An optimist might call it wishful thinking – that if we don’t talk about LGBTQ problems, maybe they’ll just go away. But to me, not being left out, but intentionally removed from one of the most influential pieces of legislation fighting violence sends a far different message. In stripping protections for people like me the Republican leadership has told me that I am not really a person. I’m not “a concern.” It shows me that the elected officials who are in Washington to argue on my behalf do not care about my safety, or even my life.
Very soon, the House of Representatives will vote on the House substitute to the Violence Against Women Act. Only if the substitute FAILS will the bipartisan bill as passed by the Senate be brought to the floor. The inclusive Senate bill not only includes protections for fellow members of the LGBTQ community, but also includes provisions for students, Native Americans, and immigrants. It is imperative that the House pass the inclusive, bipartisan Senate bill and not a gutted alternative. I urge the members of the House – as a voter, as an activist, as a woman, as a human being – to do the right thing and pass a VAWA that can protect all victims of violence. No one should be left to suffer when there is a way to help.