Of all the choice words Senator Marco Rubio would use to describe his political career, there is one he is most certain not to employ, and one that is the most accurate representation of his votes and policies as a politician. That word is "traitor."
Recently Senator Marco Rubio embarked on a book signing tour touting his memoir An American Son, on which he signed copies at various stops throughout Florida before eventually making his way through several other swing states, including North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Instead of being met with throngs of supporters, however, Rubio was confronted by groups of angry constituents holding his memoir with an alternate book cover -- one with an image of Rubio and the word TRAITOR emboldened on the front. On the back of the book were key votes and quotes from the Senator showing his so-called traitorous attacks against Hispanics, the middle class, seniors and women. I was one of the activists who waited in line at his book signing for an opportunity to present this alternate book cover and tell the senator to his face that he should be ashamed of himself for his votes against women in particular. Rubio is another soldier-puppet in the GOP's war on women, voting against the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 and co-sponsoring and voting for the Blunt-Rubio amendment, legislation that drastically denies comprehensive health care and contraception coverage for women.
One of Marco Rubio's most egregious attacks has been his vote against the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011, which among other provisions, adds and expands protections including the withholding of personal identifying information of women who are victims of violence(1). For almost two decades, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been the strongest resolution from the federal government in protecting the rights of women who have been victimized through domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. VAWA has provided vital support to law enforcement and services for survivors of violence and has effectively helped reduce violence against women overall. The American Bar Association has called it the "single most effective federal effort to respond to the epidemic of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the country." (2)
I cannot stress enough the importance of having these protections in place for women who are victims of violence. Every day, abusive partners kill three women in this country, and for every victim killed, there are nine who manage to escape. Approximately one in three adolescent girls is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse by an intimate partner, and one in five women will be raped in their lifetime (3).
All of the votes against VAWA came from Republican men, including Rubio. Despite the efforts of senators like Marco Rubio, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 passed 68-31 (4).
Let me be clear, Rubio's attacks on women are not isolated. Marco Rubio intricately and deliberately feeds into the GOP's war on women. In this atmosphere of GOP political gamesmanship trumping the needs of the people, Senator Rubio continues his attacks against women's rights and health to advance an extreme and dangerous Republican agenda.
In March of 2012 the Rubio-Blunt Amendment came to the US Senate for a vote and was yet another clear attack against women in an attempt to deny women health care they need, including contraception coverage. Senator Marco Rubio co-sponsored and voted for it (5). Rubio's desperate attempt to block President Obama's Affordable Care Act at any cause, places women in a very threatening position regarding our health, families and bodies.
It is unacceptable and irresponsible to allow Senator Rubio to continue playing the puppet to the GOP's extremism. Birth control is used by many women for responsible family planning, for the treatment of fibroid cysts and other conditions, and has been part of women's lives since the 1960's. I myself have used birth control for many years for my overall health.
Those waging this war will say that it doesn't exist, that it is "manufactured," but look no further than GOP legislation factories such as AUL and ALEC to see that there is a central command in this War on Women and Republican legislators are happy to act on their marching orders, with Senator Rubio at the forefront of these attacks.
When I was offered the opportunity to meet Senator Rubio and tell him exactly how I felt as a woman under his policies and agenda, I was more than inundated with the need to carry the voice of so many women whose lives and health hang in the balance, while politicians like Rubio toy with policies in an attempt to boost their own political agendas. When Senator Rubio supports legislation that places women as second class citizens, he is a traitor to every woman he has and will ever know. The disrespect to women is apparent, the disregard is appalling, and the direct attacks are more than evident. So while there are many words that can summate a legacy like Senator Marco Rubio's, when it comes to the one chosen for our book signing action, and the one that aggregately describes his career, there seemed to be only one word that represents Marco Rubio, a traitor to women and to all.