Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Rubio missed the year of the woman

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 12:52 PM EST, Wed February 13, 2013
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
updated 12:45 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Gabby Giffords and Katie Ray-Jones say "Between 2001 and 2012, more women were shot to death by an intimate partner in our country than the total number of American troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined."
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
Alan Elsner says Secretary Kerry's early cease-fire draft was leaked and presented as a final document, which served the interests of hard-liners on both sides who don't want the Gaza war to stop.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Vijay Das says Medicare is a success story that could provide health care for everybody, not just seniors
updated 2:18 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Rick Francona says Israel seems determined to render Hamas militarily ineffective.
updated 1:43 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
S.E. Cupp says the entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner thinks for himself and refuses to be confined to an ideological box.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
A Christian group's anger over the trailer for "Black Jesus," an upcoming TV show, seems out of place, Jay Parini says
updated 12:50 PM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
LZ Granderson says the cyber-standing ovation given to Robyn Lawley, an Australian plus-size model who posted unretouched photos, shows how crazy Americans' notions of beauty have become
updated 3:39 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Carol Dweck and Rachel Simmons: Girls tend to have a "fixed mindset" but they should have a "growth mindset."
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
A crisis like the Gaza conflict or the surge of immigrants can be an opportunity for a lame duck president, writes Julian Zelizer
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Carol Costello says the league's light punishment sent the message that it didn't consider domestic violence a serious offense
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Danny Cevallos says saggy pants aren't the kind of fashion statement protected by the First Amendment.
updated 2:52 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Margaret Hoover says some GOP legislators support a state's right to allow same-sex marriage and the right of churches, synagogues and mosques not to perform the sacrament
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Priya Satia says today's drones for bombardment and surveillance have their roots in the deadly history of Western aerial control of the Middle East that began in World War One
updated 12:35 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
updated 6:05 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 2:53 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
updated 8:09 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT