In 2012, with the global market struggling and oppressed regions of the Middle East fighting to become free, and in this nation with its own issues and daunting challenges to meet, the Republican Party has chosen to focus its efforts on marginalizing women. While the efforts to involve the reach of government into the reproductive rights of women was problematic enough, it is the systematic elimination of resources for women who are victims of domestic or sexual violence that has shown the true disdain for women that Republicans must harbor. This disdain is obvious on the state level as well as the federal.
On April 17, Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) employed his veto power as governor to wipe out almost $144 million in service programs across the state. Included in his veto was $1.5 million that funded rape crisis centers across the state. His position is there are already other funding streams in place in Florida, and the amount he vetoed was simply a duplication of monies for services. Those administering the programs beg to differ with that assessment. They speak of waiting lists and increasing demands for services. This is not an isolated action, and until Congress actually voted for reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act there was a question of its passage due to substantial pressure applied to Republicans to vote against it. The final vote in the Senate showed 31 Republican senators voting against it, and not surprising, they were all men.
It’s difficult at first glance to understand how an entire political party can argue and vote against women’s health care and reproductive services access, or in support of defunding domestic violence programs. A deeper analysis of those actions reveals the long arm of religion reaching into many of the political policies that protect countless women across this country every day, and twisting their intolerance for what they do not like in a way that does not serve the best interests of women, or LGBT populations.
Republicans were pressured to vote against VAWA because it included a provision that would have applied to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals. As Republicans try yet one more maneuver to discriminate against those demographics of people they do not like, they punish women, already victimized by violence. Even before Republicans attempted to use this as a tool of discrimination, local governments, ravished by the economy like all other entities, had begun to cut funding to domestic violence programs on the local level. When there’s a buck to be saved it is evidently programs geared for the health and protection of women that are first on the chopping block.
Although it may seem discriminatory, the veto of funding for rape crisis centers is actually part of an overall strategy utilized by Rick Scott. He has slashed education as well as service funding, and actively works to implement lower corporate tax rates in a misguided effort to boost the economy.
Without question, Gov. Scott’s decision in Florida has statewide impact. Much of the funding already allocated from other sources goes to education programs. With his decision to veto the $1.5 million in state funding, he effectively removed that amount in services. Rape is an especially traumatic violent act. Women who have access to the counseling and health services they need to recover will be empowered to regain emotional control of their lives again. Those who do without those critical services may never recover. It’s hard to understand how that is acceptable to the man elected to protect each and every citizen in Florida.