Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Rubio missed the year of the woman

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
February 13, 2013 -- Updated 1752 GMT (0152 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: Rubio one of 22 male GOP senators to vote no on Violence Against Women Act
  • Granderson: Just as Rubio was to show new face of GOP, he cast a vote that's the old face
  • Rubio's reasons were absurd, he says, in light of a bill that really works to protect women
  • Act's funding 17% less than in 2005, he says. How could a women-friendly GOP say no?

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.

(CNN) -- You would think that in the shadow of a general election dubbed "Year of the Woman," the last thing any Republican in Washington would want to do is tick off women.

And while the Violence Against Women Act passed in the Senate by a healthy bipartisan majority a few hours before President Obama's State of the Union address, the fact that 22 senators -- all Republicans, all men -- voted against it should be troubling to GOP leaders.

And perhaps the most troubling aspect of that is Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the so-called savior of the Republican Party, was one of those Republican men.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

Just think: A few hours before Rubio was to deliver a message reflecting a new Republican Party, he casts a vote that screams more of the same. The jokes about him fidgeting like a 5-year-old and chugging water during the rebuttal will eventually go away. But if he's seriously thinking about running in 2016, that one vote is going to come back to haunt him. Especially if a revitalized Hillary Clinton, and her 18 million cracks in the ceiling, is in the race.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Domestic violence vote key test of more inclusive GOP

In a statement, he said he "could not support the final, entire legislation that contains new provisions that could have potentially adverse consequences. Specifically, this bill would mandate the diversion of a portion of funding from domestic violence programs to sexual assault programs, although there's no evidence to suggest this shift will result in a greater number of convictions."

The Senate-version of reauthorization extends protections to Native Americans, gays and lesbians, and immigrants. It would allow the prosecution of non-Native Americans for abusing Native American women.

Regarding that, Rubio said he voted against the bill because of "concerns regarding the conferring of criminal jurisdiction to some Indian tribal governments over all persons in Indian country, including non-Indians."

Translation: From a political standpoint, Rubio blew it long before he lunged off-camera to grab a swig of water. And Democrats wasted little time pointing this out.

GOP's Rubio rips Obama

GOP responds to the State of the Union
Rubio's water break a big hit online

Voting against a bill to help women because you're not happy about the amount of money being spent on domestic violence vs. sexual assault is splitting some pretty fine hairs and just isn't choosing the right fight.

Especially when juxtaposed against the success of the programs.

From the time the act passed through 2010, intimate partner violence declined by 67%. There has also been an increase in the arrests of suspects in domestic and violent sexual crimes. The new legislation has a provision that speeds up DNA analysis in rape cases and a program to fight human trafficking.

And if spending was a concern, the $659 million the Senate approved for Violence Against Women programs for the next five years is actually 17% less than the amount approved in 2005.

How could the face of a new, kinder, women-friendly Republican Party say no to that?

Perhaps the reason why he needed water during the rebuttal is because he got cotton-mouthed listening to his party's resounding approval when Obama mentioned the Senate passing the bill during the State of the Union address. Or maybe he felt a tad faint when House Speaker John Boehner was seen looking over and talking to Vice President Joe Biden -- who co-wrote the first incarnation of the bill nearly 20 years ago -- as he clapped in support.

Talk Back: Is giving the State of the Union response a political 'kiss of death'?

And trust me, Boehner did not spend a lot of time applauding Obama or talking to Joe.

This week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who is spearheading the negotiations of a House bill, and Boehner received a letter from 17 House Republicans urging them to take action, stating that the act's "programs save lives, and we must allow states and communities to build upon the successes of current VAWA programs so that we can help even more people."

The GOP knows that between the embarrassing remarks about rape made by several candidates during the last election cycle, the record 20 seats held by women in the Democratic-held Senate and the 55% of women who voted for Obama, regaining power requires a makeover.

Rubio appeared to be someone who could embody that change, but he didn't do himself any favors Tuesday. Not with his rebuttal and certainly not with this vote.

Opinion: A kinder, gentler, wiser Marco Rubio

"Mr. President," Rubio said in his speech, "I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors."

I'm going to assume none of his neighbors are women.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2256 GMT (0656 HKT)
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 2011 GMT (0411 HKT)
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0258 GMT (1058 HKT)
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2141 GMT (0541 HKT)
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
America will have its hands full in the Middle East for years to come, writes Aaron David Miller.
November 15, 2014 -- Updated 1617 GMT (0017 HKT)
Gene Seymour says it's part of our pioneering makeup to keep exploring the universe
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Sally Kohn says the U.S.-China agreement to cut carbon emissions is a big deal, and Republicans should take note.
November 15, 2014 -- Updated 2129 GMT (0529 HKT)
S.E. Cupp says the Obamacare advisor who repeatedly disses the electorate in a series of videotaped remarks reveals arrogance and cluelessnes.
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 2200 GMT (0600 HKT)
Reggie Littlejohn says gendercide is a human rights abuse against women, with bad consequences for nations.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 1657 GMT (0057 HKT)
The massing of Russian forces near Ukraine only reinforces the impression that Moscow has no interest in reconciliation with the West, writes Michael Kofman.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1455 GMT (2255 HKT)
It takes a real man to make the moves on the wife of the most powerful man in the biggest country. Especially when the wife is a civilian major general.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1347 GMT (2147 HKT)
Proponents of marriage equality LGBT persons have been on quite a winning streak -- 32 states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
It has been an eventful few weeks for space news.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2014 GMT (0414 HKT)
It's too early to write the U.S. off, and China's leaderships knows that better than anyone, argues Kerry Brown.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1821 GMT (0221 HKT)
"How can Jon Stewart hire you to be 'The Daily Show''s senior Muslim correspondent when you don't even know how to pronounce Salaam Al-aikum?!"
ADVERTISEMENT