In order to win high office in South Carolina or any other state, a politician has to command significant support among women. Republicans found that out the hard way in 2012, when GOP nominee Mitt Romney lost the female vote to President Barack Obama by 11 points. The gender disparity was only magnified by the fact that more women voted than men, swinging close races such as Ohio to the president’s favor.
Given the importance of the female vote — not to mention the Republican Party’s public image of waging a war on women’s rights at every turn — you might think a GOP politician with an election coming up would go out of his way to embrace women-friendly legislation. But apparently Tim Scott didn’t get the memo, because South Carolina’s newly-crowned U.S. senator voted against consideration of the Violence Against Women Act on Monday.
Scott was one of eight Republican senators who voted against taking up reauthorization of VAWA, which helps fund thorough investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women. While that might seem like a no-brainer, Sen. Scott and the other members of the Anti-Fem Fraternity saw it as a non-starter. It’s not that they voted against reauthorizing the bill — they voted against even considering it.
Reauthorization of VAWA — and the necessary funds which have helped reduce domestic violence by up to 53 percent since it was first passed in 1994 — has been held up in partisan gridlock by Republican lawmakers for over six months. Last month, the law expired without a vote thanks to GOP obstruction.
Women in South Carolina would do well to remember Tim Scott’s opposition to funding for domestic violence prevention when the senator is up for reelection next year. After all, South Carolina ranks second in the country for the rate of women killed by men — with 46 women in the Palmetto State killed in domestic violence-related incidents in 2010 alone.
Unfortunately, Scott isn’t the only South Carolina member of the Anti-Fem Fraternity. Sen. Lindsey Graham voted against reauthorization of VAWA last year, and the state’s Republican congressmen will likely voted against the bill when it reaches the House. Last spring, state Sen. Kevin Bryant introduced a budget proviso that would eliminate coverage of abortion in cases of rape and incest for women on the state health insurance plan. Gov. Nikki Haley joined the fraternity last year by claiming that “women don’t care about contraception,” and vetoing half a million dollars in funding for rape crisis centers.
Though the Anti-Fem Fraternity doesn’t exclude women, they certainly don’t seem to want to stand up for them, either.