At the end of the day, at least veteran Orange County congressmen John Campbell and Dana Rohrabacher can say they don't hate all women. That's because they voted for one of two federal Violence Against Women acts last week, although not the one covering all women that's awaiting an anxious President Barack Obama's pen, but rather a defeated Republican alternative that would not have applied to lesbian, undocumented or Native American females.
Not surprisingly, Orange County's Democratic representatives–Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), her sister Linda Sanchez (D-Lakewood) and Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach)–voted against the GOP version and for the fully protective extension of the landmark 1994 legislation, which passed the House Thursday by a 286-138 vote. It also passed in the Senate and is now waiting on Obama's signature, which he has indicated he will give.
Surprisingly, Representative Darrell Issa (R-Vista) voted against the GOP version and for the one the Orange County Democrats supported. (All California members of Congress mentioned in this post are from districts that are completely or partially in Orange County.) It's surprising because Issa has voted against extending the Violence Against Women Act in the past.
The remaining GOP member from the Orange County delegation, Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), voted for both versions of the bill Thursday. 'Cause half pint's a lover! When it comes to his pals Campbell and Rohrabacher, you've got to ask: Why do they hate women?
No, they aren't among the 22 House members, Republicans all, who voted against both versions. Perhaps Campbell and Rohrabacher, who've remained silent on their votes, can pull a Michele Bachman. The Minnesota Republican tweeted to her followers that she voted for the "stronger" House version of the Violence Against Women Act, referring to the one that did not cover all women. Um . . . what? Guess it's stronger in the sense that batterers of lesbians, the undocumented and Native Americans would have still had the upper pimp hand.
On its bruised face, it is more surprising that relatively moderate, married, father-of-two Campbell, whose district is based in that land of enlightenment known as Irvine, would have been the one who voted against all women. After all, it's not like he's relatively wingnut, married, father-of-triplets Rohrabacher, who has been such a wild card over the years there's no predicting where he'll stand on anything. Well, anything that doesn't demonize brown people, that is.
Campbell voted to extend the Violence Against Women Act last year, which raises two questions: What the hell? And why is this law not permanent? Maybe it's being offered up as a gift for Scalia to poke fun at someday.
It's obvious some of Campbell's constituents wonder where he's coming from, given these comments left on his Facebook page:
John Troy: Congressman, you voted against the Violence Against Women Act? Is that true? Why would you do that? I can't believe it. I don't want you representing me.
Lynn Dalsing: Today, you had the opportunity to vote for the VAWA, and you chose not to. As a resident of California, your actions embarrass and disappoint me. I want to know why you voted to not protect women.
Melissa Avila: Congressman, as a woman and as one of your constituents, I am deeply disappointed that you chose to vote against VAWA today. You can expect a call from me tomorrow. I'm asking all the women in my family to call you, too (all in your district).
Simon Vakili: Congressman, would you please explain your stance on the Violence Against Women Act? I am curious as to why you deliberately acted against the best interests of 50 percent of your constituency. Actually, I'd like to amend that to 100 percent.
Looking at some of Campbell's other past votes, perhaps it is not that surprising after all.
He voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, every Employment Discrimination Law Amendment that has come before the House since he's been there and the 2007 Equal Pay Bill. All passed the House without him.
Two days before the most current House vote, Campbell received a 9 percent approval rating from Planned Parenthood, and he has been in single digits or 0 percentage-wise over his career in ratings from the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce and the national and state National Organization for Women. The latter did also give Campbell his highest score ever when it came to women's issues, 36 percent, but that was way back in 2001. He has generally fallen between 10 percent and 20 percent in ratings from Federally Employed Women and the American Association of University Women of California, although both have pegged him at 33 percent favorable, in 2011 and 2002 respectively.
Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) voted against the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012 and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, and he drew goose eggs from Planned Parenthood on Feb. 26, Women Employed in 2009, the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce in 2006, Federally Employed Women in '05-06 and '03-'04 and Business and Professional Women USA in 2001-02.
Other scores throughout the years have been pretty similar to Campbell's, and as with his Irvine colleague, Rohrabacher heard about his latest Violence Against Women Act vote on his Facebook page.
Heidi Jo Bean: Thanks for voting AGAINST the VAWA. This is just what we need, another stupid old white man thwarting laws that protect women. I can't for the life of me understand why you've been in Congress so long, but mark my words, you will NOT be reelected in 2014. I think you need to retire ASAP. Oh, and your little 15 minutes of fame while questioning Secretary of State Clinton regarding Benghazi just showed what an out-of-touch fool you are. Good riddance to bad rubbish. YUCK! You SUCK.
Lance Pinkham: Votes Against the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act . . . The Republican congress has not put a bill forward to avoid the sequester . . . Why are we paying you to do exactly the opposite of what America as a whole wants. Shameful. No wonder Republican registration is down to 30 percent.
To be totally fair, Rohrabacher also said this before a committee hearing in D.C. in June 2010: "We do know that we cannot turn a blind eye to the type of monstrous discrimination and mistreatment of women throughout the world if we expect to move the world forward, and women need to play an active role in not only being the recipients of that, but [also] in charting the strategy of how to accomplish that goal."
That certainly sounds like someone who opposes violence against women, and Rohrabacher repeatedly has . . . when it's violence against women elsewhere in the world. He continued: "I would just like to say that we still face many challenges today. In the Muslim world, it is still very, very clear that women are discriminated against, and that the United States needs to play a positive role in that direction.
"But not only–the Muslim world is just the one that is the best example. Everybody likes to sort of pick on that because it is so blatant. But we have that type of discrimination going on, and the horrible mistreatment of women in Africa, where we know that the outbreaks of rape are ignored by their governments and just the brutal mistreatment of women. Even in Hispanic cultures, we find residues left over from the machismo concepts, where women were not expected to play a role in decision-making. In Japan, that type of cultural tradition still has its impact."
Perhaps lesbians, the undocumented and Native Americans can simply move to the Middle East, Africa, Japan and Hispania, where they could sleep well at night knowing Rohrabacher will be there in spirit to protect them from violence–at least until they step back onto U.S soil again.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.