After months of promising action on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Sen. Joni Ernst has allowed the bill to become politicized and offers a disappointing replacement for the bipartisan House bill. Ernst has failed to include critical provisions in her version.
The least surprising part of Ernst’s bill is her support for the rights of gun owners over the rights of survivors, since she has received millions from the NRA. She refuses to take action on closing the “boyfriend loophole,” leaving thousands of Iowans vulnerable to gun violence from dating partners or stalkers. Ernst’s bill prioritizes abusers’ access to guns over the lives, safety, and rights of survivors by leaving out lifesaving, common sense provisions to recognize that the same gun laws that apply to spousal abusers should also apply to dating abusers.
Ernst’s bill rolls back existing LGBTQ non-discrimination protections and fails to further protect LGBTQ survivors. She continues to disregard the needs and safety of those in marginalized communities including less protection for Native American women.
While it might seem like a benefit to extend the bill for ten years, rather than the previously authorized five, this limits the ability for improvements to protections.
Ernst needs to stand with survivors and not the gun lobby. It is discriminatory to leave out protections for LGBTQ individuals and lessen protections for Native American women. Her bill fails to meet the needs of victims, survivors, and advocates.