Sunday, December 27, 2009

Al Franken Amendment Protects Rape Victims

Sen. Al Franken's (D-MN) first piece of legislation is a "rape amendment," which
withholds defense contracts from companies that "restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court."

Yesterday, it was signed into law. The Yea votes came from all Democrats , except Byrd (D-WV) and Specter (D-PA) who were not present for the vote. Also voting Yea were 10 Republicans and 1 Independent.

There were 30 Senators who voted against the Amendment (Franken Amdt. No. 2588 ). All who voted Nay were [male] Republicans. Which means that 75% of the entire Republican Senate caucus -- voted against this.

Digby had an interesting comment on this.

The reason I think it's good news isn't just on the substance (which it certainly is) but on the politics. Franken's amendment is driving the Republicans crazy because they basically voted to protect rapists and are now paying a political price for that. And now they are whining that Franken was somehow "uncollegial" because the amendment put them in an embarrassing position (which makes me wonder how many other things issues are swept under the rug because it would make members of the opposition uncomfortable.)

That's the kind of thing the Democrats should do more of. Expose the Republicans' hypocrisy and cruelty by forcing these issues on to the agenda.

Steve Benen notes.

WHATEVER IT IS, THEY'RE AGAINST IT.... It's tempting to think a measure like this one would pass unanimously. After all, it's not as if voters would elect monsters to the Senate, right?

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. She was detained in a shipping container for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed, and "warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job." (Jones was not an isolated case.) Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration.

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR "if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court."

All Franken's measure would do is allow victims of rape and discrimination to have their day in court -- not exactly controversial stuff. When Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) accused Franken of pushing a "political attack directed at Halliburton," the Minnesota senator explained that it would apply equally to all defense contractors.[...]

When the Senate considered a measure yesterday to give rape victims who work for U.S.-subsidized defense contractors a day in court, 30 out of 40 Republican senators said, "No."

The notion that the majority should be able to reach constructive, worthwhile compromises with this minority is clearly ridiculous.

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