Last year, when writing about Congressional Republicans' objections to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, I wryly noted that the GOP was keen to protect the sanctity of traditional domestic violence.
Proving that once again the Republican Party is beyond parody, a bill being considered by the Iowa state House would "prohibit [married] parents of minor children from getting a 'no-fault' divorce" and would require married parents of minor children "to show a spouse was guilty of adultery, had been sent to prison on a felony conviction, had physically or sexually abused someone in the family, or had abandoned the family for at least a year."
No-fault divorce is a critical tool for abused spouses, and/or children being abused by one parent, but there is a segment of the population—insert a Venn diagram overlaying homophobic conservatives and MRAs—that routinely mischaracterizes no-fault divorce as a mechanism of egregious selfishness favored by capricious, man-hating, vengeful mothers who don't care about their children. So we get stupid Think of the Children! rationalizations for trying to unwind a key legal victory for abused women and children. (And men, too.)
A three-member subcommittee debated the bill today. Representative Tedd Gassman, a Republican from Scarville, said he's concerned about the negative impact divorce has on children.And naturally, what Gassman means by "look[ing] out for the children" is tasking fathers with policing their daughters' sexuality, so they don't become dirty sluts.
"In my opinion, it's time to look out for the children instead of constantly worrying about the adults," Gassman said.
"This basically is an attempt on my part to keep fathers in the home," Gassman said. "I sincerely believe that the family is the foundation of this nation and this nation will go the direction of our families. If our families break up, so will this nation."I would be so thrilled if I were Gassman's daughter or granddaughter, listening to this blowhard justify a bill that would abet abuse by publicly discussing my marriage and/or sexuality. Which is to say nothing of the horrendo framing that 16-year-old girls "get themselves into" trouble with their "raging hormones."
…Representative Gassman said the issue is "near and dear" to his heart because his daughter and son-in-law recently divorced, putting his granddaughter at risk.
"There's a 16-year-old girl in this whole mix now. Guess what? What are the possibilities of her being more promiscuous?" Gassman said. "What are the possibilities of all these other things surrounding her life that a 16-year-old girl, with hormones raging, can get herself into?"
Anyway. Some people spoke sense in Iowa in response to this absurd proposal:
Rachel Scott of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence told lawmakers the changes proposed often make homes a more dangerous place.Too bad Republicans have never seen a carefully crafted solution they didn't want to annihilate the fuck out of.
"One of the things that we’ve seen with places where there is fault divorce is it escalates tension and conflict between the two individuals," Scott said.
Representative Marti Anderson, a Democrat from Des Moines who opposes the bill, said the tension in her childhood home lasted eight years, until her parents divorced back when fault had to be proven.
"The stay-together time was very, very damaging to my family," said Anderson — the oldest of four children, "and although we're all adults now, I'm not sure any of us have ever really gotten past that."
Karl Schilling of the Iowa Organization for Victim Assistance said no-fault divorce was a carefully crafted solution to deal with those kind of problems.