Why Doherty doesn’t support changing the Violence Against Women Act

Oct 4, 2012

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the battle for women voters has emerged as a central theme in the intensifying First Congressional District race between Republican Brendan Doherty and David Cicilline.

Doherty today changed his tactics, adopting a tougher tone in accusing Cicilline of being hypocritical by questioning Doherty’s commitment to protecting women.

Cicilline’s camp has responded by rapping Doherty for failing to support changes to the federal Violence Against Women Act. The critique dovetails with the Cicilline campaign’s message of linking Doherty with congressional and other Republicans.

A September 16 column by ProJo political columnist Ed Fitzpatrick examined the back-and-forth between the two sides on women’s issues. It included this:

Doherty said he created the first domestic-violence victim’s-advocate position in the state police. And under his leadership, the state’s public safety department disseminated grants under the Violence Against Women Act, which first passed in 1994 and has financed the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women. “This was a very important bill submitted in 1994, and it’s important to keep it as is,” he said. “If members of Congress want to add protections for people in other walks of life, that’s fine, but submit another bill.”

Doherty’s reason for opposing changes to VAWA seemed a bit unclear, so I asked his campaign for an explanation. Via email, campaign manager Ian Prior says his candidate’s stance comes down to this:

[T]o the extent that federal funds are directed to investigate and prosecute violence against male transgender individuals, it should not be part of VAWA.

One suspects we haven’t heard the last of this debate.