Letter to the editor
In response to ‚ÄúLack of GOP support for civil rights shows insensitivity‚ÄĚ
Recently, a Daily Trojan writer wrote a rather excoriating article which, while well-evidenced, incorrectly characterized the GOP‚Äôs vote on the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA. As a proud member of the party, as secretary for the USC College Republicans and even as a concerned citizen, I felt that Nathaniel Haas‚Äô column deserves a different point of view.
On its face, this argument presents a false dichotomy. It dilutes the issues at hand to a simple either-or. According to Haas, either the GOP is in favor of the act or is a coterie of misogynists. In no way, shape or form is this the case. In fact, the act‚Äôs original passage in 1994, which Haas mentions, was made possible with overwhelming Republican support. Those republicans who voted against the act in 2013 did so for other reasons, which I will explore further.
It is most important to note that the GOP is not ‚ÄúThe Party of No,‚ÄĚ as Haas suggests. No one is against civil rights. The recent vote on the renewal of VAWA, however, reveals a complex debate over the role of the government. Some republicans voted against the provisions of the act for the simple reason that the government ought not to decide who should or should not be considered within the LGBT community. This act is now open to a wide variety of abuses, particularly those who might be tempted to claim to be one sexual orientation or another in order to receive the benefits of the act. Unlike other descriptions, such as race, place of birth, educational status and so on, homosexuality is a less tangible category to define. How is the government to decide what that definition is? Fundamentally, what Haas did not show, and what the party must communicate, is the fact that the federal government cannot possibly interpret who is still in the closet and who is not.
Other civic services show that the federal government ought to be careful in how it defines homosexuality. For the same reasons, federal courts have ruled against the elimination of gay jurors from jury selection as being a violation of the 14th Amendment. The government has no business in determining someone‚Äôs sexual orientation, making enforcement of the new provisions of VAWA difficult. In light of this analysis, and the potential abuses which will take place, I can see why these republicans voted against the renewal of the act in that form.
Do not be mistaken: This is not to say that the Republican Party is against homosexual individuals, either. The GOP is in favor of limited government, not curtailing the rights of people. Nowhere in our constitution does it say that Congress ought to make definitions on what a citizen is, let alone who can marry. Marriage law has historically been a state issue. If a state decides that churches (or any other place, for that matter) can marry whoever they want, then so be it. It is a two-way street, however: The government must respect the rights of states to say no, since there is no constitutional authority.
Unfortunately, the party has not done a good job in communicating this message for the past two or more elections. I would say that, in the future, we must be more willing to voice the true ideals of limited government, rather than allow ourselves to be characterized as a religious party, so that hasty generalizations are not made.
If only the rest of the GOP would follow my lead.
Secretary, USC College Republicans