All three Republicans in Mississippi's Congressional delegation voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the state's only Democratic representative in Washington, D.C., was the lone Mississippi congressman who voted in favor of renewing the nearly 25-year-old law.
The VAWA, which Congress first passed in 1994, is a landmark law that provides funding for programs that help prevent and investigate domestic abuse-related crimes. Congress has to reauthorize it about once every five years.
All but 33 Republicans in the U.S. House opposed this year's reauthorization, which the National Rifle Association lobbied heavily against because it bars more abusers from purchasing guns than previous iterations. All but one Democrat voted for reauthorization.
Republicans Oppose LGBT Protections
Rep. Michael Guest, who represents the 3rd Congressional District, "would be more than happy to reauthorize a version of the Violence Against Women Act," but could not support certain "add-ons" in the 2019 bill, said Rob Pillow, Guest's communications director.
"There are some programs included in that bill that the congressman just could not support," Pillow told the Jackson Free Press on Thursday.
When asked for specifics, Pillow said the aspects of the bill that Guest opposed were "the ones that eliminate protections for faith-based institutions and the ones that restrict tools that are used by our court system that are helpful in bringing people to justice."
Pillow did not elaborate on what those provisions are, but presumably, he was in part referring to an anti-discrimination provision.
In testimony before a House committee on March 7, Julia Beck, an anti-LGBT activist who is also a lesbian, said she opposed the 2019 reauthorization of the VAWA because of its nondiscrimination provision, which includes gender identity and sexual orientation. The 2013 reauthorization added that provision in, and for the first time covered abused same-sex partners. That, she said, could negatively