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Candace Straight Headshot

Another GOP Swipe Against Women

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Is there anyone out there who condones gang rape? It appears that 30 U.S. Republican Senators fit that description.

Thankfully, this view is in the minority. An anti-rape amendment passed earlier this month with the votes of 68 Senators including 10 compassionate and principled common-sense Republicans. Women, including Republican women, are pleased that our lawmakers took a stand against rape.

However, 28 Republican Senators followed Republican Senate Leadership- Minority Leader Mitch McConnell(KY) and GOP Whip John Kyl (AZ) in voting against a proposal that would give victims of sexual assault who are American contractors in Iraq the ability to sue their employer if the employer was negligent or reacted inappropriately.

Though I and most Republicans favor limiting governments role in the everyday lives of Americans, an indefensible crime by employees of government contractors demands government action. The 30 "no" votes cast by Republicans reinforce negative views of the GOP that have caused serious erosion in its support among women. Once again, out of touch Republican lawmakers are disappointing the common sense majority of Republicans - both men and women - who are tired of these extreme antics.

The now-famous anti-rape amendment arose from the case of an American employee who was gang-raped by fellow Halliburton/KBR workers in Iraq in 2005. The workers attacked her and then locked her in a shipping container for more than a day in an attempt to prevent her from reporting the incident. When the victim tried to sue KBR, she was prevented from doing so by a clause in her employment contract specifying that sexual assault charges could only be heard in private arbitration - not the courts.

The amendment in the Senate requires U.S. defense contractors to give their workers access to U.S. courts in cases of rape or sexual assault. The amendment withholds U.S. defense contracts from companies that forbid legal action against the contractor when a sexual assault occurs among co-workers.

In other words, it makes it clear that the United States will not put Americans' hard-earned tax dollars in the hands of corporations which do everything possible to cover up and downplay rape and sexual assault crimes.

It is astonishing that a single lawmaker would oppose such a measure; for 30 Republican U.S. Senators to do so is truly disturbing. It says that U.S. defense companies are more important than fair treatment toward women. These Senators bolster the heartless, Neanderthal and negative image the GOP has with women and younger voters in general.

The Republican senators who voted against this measure ignored common decency and basic human rights - and in doing so, they further exacerbate the idea that GOP is out of touch and complicate the Party's chances of a comeback in 2010.

The GOP must stop the degradation of women's rights within the Party, whether it be a refusal to support women's choices or a woman's right to a fair trial in a rape case. They are not only out of step with the American public that they are representing; but more significantly, they will continue to diminish the GOP by abandoning the core principles in favor of politically expedient opportunities.