by Rev. Laura Barclay
I was very troubled last month to see that 30 senators voted against Senator Al Franken’s anti-rape amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill. This amendment would revoke defense contracts from Halliburton and others who do not allow their employees to take workplace rape and sexual assault cases to court. One such example cited by Senator Franken involved a former Halliburton employee, Jamie Leigh Jones, who was gang raped and locked in a shipping container by her co-workers and later prevented from taking her case to court by her employer.
How can this be a partisan issue, you ask? Those 30 senators, who all happen to be white, male, and Republican, claim that the government is overreaching their authority into the private sector with this bill. They also believe that frivolous lawsuits would occur from allowing employees to sue. One article explains a portion of this: http://www.minnpost.com/stories/2009/10/06/12247/senate_passes_franken_amendment_aimed_at_defense_contractors
However, many of the 30 senators who voted against Franken’s bill had no problem intervening and cutting federal funding when corruption became evident in ACORN. I would have hoped these senators would have made rape cases as much of a priority as financial corruption.
I believe this is another case where politicians get so involved in how to argue against and defeat the other side that they lose focus of the reason they decided to be public servants and run for office. Both parties have been alternately guilty of this throughout history, even though this example highlights Republicans. Many politicians seem to miss the whole point of good governing that protects and cares for its citizens and upholds the law. Democrats and Republicans alike could learn from his example. Jesus went where the poor and suffering were without apology. Our government would do well to exemplify this behavior and listen to the stories of these rape survivors who are crying out for justice.