Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee joined a minority of senators last week in voting against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. The Alliance for a Better Utah believes that a vote against reauthorizing the Act represents a callous insult not just to the women of Utah but to the entire population of Utah and the United States.
Alliance for a Better Utah Executive Director, Maryann Martindale told UPR's Kerry Bringhurst that:
"The Violence Against Women Act has been around for a very long time and has been reconfirmed several times over the years. It provides federal oversight to provide protection for women against violence. Violence against women is a horrifying thing, a life-destroying thing. Without solid, firm, far-reaching laws that cover this, women are at risk. It's time to reinforce this law again."
In a floor speech (click to watch a video of the speech), Senator Mike Lee explained his stance that violence against women is a state matter rather than a federal matter:
"Everyone agrees that violence against women is reprehensible. The Violence Against Women Act reauthorization oversteps the Constitution's rightful limits on federal power. It interferes with the flexibility of states and localities that they should have in tailoring programs to meet particular needs of individual communities."
But, according to Alliance for a Better Utah, the Act is something that deals with the very fundamental right for women to have protection from violence: "It's unacceptable to say that what may be considered violence in one state may not be considered violence in another state." The Alliance believes that violence needs to be defined by a broad, more full federal overview.
The Violence Against Women Act was initially passed in 1994. Senator Hatch had supported the Act then and all of its reaffirmations until this year.
According to Martindale, partner violence against women has decreased by as much as 53% since the Act was passed. Most proponents of the Act are using this statistic to prove its success. And it will continue to be successful even though the Utah Senators did not vote for it. The Act passed the U.S. Senate and now moves on to the House.