Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), vice chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus, believes that domestic violence in LGBT relationships is a ‘separate issue’ and should not be included in a bill that aims to prevent domestic violence.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Hardball Host Chris Matthews, McMorris Rodgers pushed back against the Democrats’ call for a provision in the Violence Against Women Act that applies to LGBT couples, saying that domestic violence in LGBT couples is a “side issue,” and that Congress should not be addressing LGBT victims until they address the federal status of LGBT couples:
MATTHEWS: Why don’t you cover people who are not in a traditional marriage? Why would you limit it to just traditional marriage folk?
MCMORRIS RODGERS: Well– what I — Those are side issues that have been attached to this bill and I think it’s very important to–
MATTHEWS: Well it’s not side issues if you’re getting beat up by your partner. That’s not a side issue, it’s your life.
MCMORRIS RODGERS: That is an issue — there is nothing under federal law that currently recognizes same-sex couples and so if we’re going to have that debate in Congress is should be a separate debate from the reauthorization of the Violence against women act–
MATTHEWS: But Congresswoman, you write the law. You said there’s nothing in the law, you write the law, you can write it any way you want. Why not write it to include people in these different kinds of relationships that could involve physical violence?
MCMORRIS RODGERS: That’s a separate issue from the Violence Against Women Act and we are committed to getting it — it should be debated separately, if we’re going to change our federal law related to same-sex couples.
Cases of LGBT domestic violence increased 38 percent from last year. Seven people died from same-sex domestic abuse. And of those who sought it, 44 percent of LGBT victims were turned away from traditional shelters. McMorris Rodgers may consider it a separate issue, but abuse is abuse, no matter the victim’s sexual orientation.