What motivates opponents of the Violence Against Women Act

The Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly
The Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly
Don Irvine Photos/Flickr

In all likelihood, the Senate will easily approve the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act today, and the vote will be rather lopsided. But it won’t be unanimous – last year, most Senate Republicans voted against it – and House Republicans remain deeply skeptical.

The next question, of course, is why anyone in America would oppose the Violence Against Women Act in the first place. It’s not like there’s a powerful lobbying organization that supports domestic violence pressuring lawmakers to crush the law.

But VAWA is facing well-organized opposition, and as Jillian Rayfield reported, it’s coming almost entirely from the religious right movement.

The socially conservative Family Research Council asked supporters to help it oppose the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act because, the group says, the “real abuse” is how much it will waste taxpayer dollars.

In an email alert on Monday, the FRC decried the VAWA (“which, ironically, is supported by the same administration that wants to put women in front-line combat!”) as an “abuse of taxpayer dollars” that “does more to promote a radical agenda than it does to help women.”

The email quoted conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, who also opposes VAWA.

Schlafly, head of a right-wing group called the Eagle Forum, dismissed VAWA as a law “used to fill feminist coffers and to lobby for feminist objectives and laws.”

I guess we now know the answer to the “why would anyone vote against this” question.

The Family Research Council is taking VAWA opposition so seriously that it’s told congressional Republicans that this vote will be scored – if they want to maintain a high rating on religious right scorecards, they’ll have to vote against reauthorization.

This probably won’t make much of a difference, at least in the Senate. On the vote on the motion to proceed earlier this week, the final tally was 85 to 8, with only Republicans on the far-right fringe – folks like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Marco Rubio – voting against even debating the bill.

But among extreme House Republicans, the religious right’s opposition may still carry weight, and may stand in the way of completing work on this legislation.