Violence Against Women Act Shouldn't Cover Same-Sex Couples, GOP Congresswoman Says

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the vice chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus, said Monday that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) shouldn't include protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people because "those are side issues."

During an appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball," McMorris Rodgers was asked why the House GOP bill to reauthorize VAWA doesn't include protections for the LGBT community. The Senate overwhelmingly passed its version of a VAWA bill last month that would update current law with LGBT protections, as well as add provisions protecting Native American women and undocumented immigrant women against domestic violence. The current VAWA law has been funded through the end of September.

"Those are side issues that have been attached to this bill," McMorris Rodgers said of the LGBT protections. "There's nothing under federal law that currently recognizes same-sex couples. So if we're going to have that debate in Congress, it should be a separate debate from the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act."

Pressed by show host Chris Matthews on why Republicans shouldn't then change the laws to help prevent physical violence among LGBT couples, McMorris Rodgers repeated that the issue shouldn't be tied to VAWA.

"That's a separate issue," she said. "It should be debated separately for them to change federal laws relating to same-sex couples."

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), also on the show, said GOP opposition to protections for LGBT people, Native American women and undocumented immigrants runs counter to recommendations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, district attorneys, police departments and the Department of Justice.

"I think the Republican Party is really ignoring the recommendations of a broad swath of law enforcement," Moore said. "The bill is not worthy of being called the Violence Against Women Act if you don't protect all women."

The House is scheduled to vote on the GOP bill on Wednesday.