President Obama in his State of the Union address had something for everyone, women, minorities, middle class and everyone in between. For women, President Obama called on the House of Representatives to take up and pass the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) that cleared the Senate earlier on Tuesday.
“We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace, and free from the fear of domestic violence,” he said. “Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act that Joe Biden originally wrote almost 20 years ago. I urge the House to do the same.”
The Violence Against Women Act provides grants to state and local authorities for legal assistance, transitional housing, law enforcement training, stalker databases and domestic violence hotlines. The Senate bill extends the act for five years and provides $659 million for VAWA programs, down 17 percent from the last reauthorization in 2005. A sticky point this time has been efforts to protect Native American women and girls on reservations from sexual assault and attacks and subjecting the accused to tribal courts. The VAWA has resulted in helping women to bring claims of domestic abuse and rape reports to the police. The VAWA expired in 2011 and put on hold many programs assisting women of domestic violence and sexual assaults,
President Obama also urged the passing of the Paycheck Fairness Act saying, “And I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts, and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.” The millions of women in this country are waiting on Congress to act.
Priority number one is jobs. Education, jobs and training are tied to the success of a thriving middle class which means, “stronger families, stronger communities and a stronger America, according to the President.
Above all, we must protect our “most precious resources-our children.” We need new laws to make it harder for criminals to get guns. Nothing will be 100% safe but we must make an effort. President Obama saved his strongest argument for last—the vote on gun control legislation. He asked that Congress call for a vote. Calling the names of Gabrielle Giffords, the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, a student who was shot and killed within days after appearing in the Inauguration parade, the Newtown families, Aurora, Tucson and all others affected by gun violence-saying they deserve a vote—up or down.
In telling the story of voting rights, President Obama introduced Desilene Victor, a 102 year old black woman, who stood in line for hours to vote in Miami. President Obama introduced a presidential commission to examine election day problems. Voting is the bedrock of democracy. And the last election made abundantly clear that efforts are needed to ensure voters’ efforts to vote and that their rights are not infringed.
President Obama made his case with words, pictures and stories. A picture is said to be worth a thousand words. Stories tell more than words say. As a trial lawyer, we often paint a picture to the jury and tell a story to make our case. And President Obama used all three to make his case on where he wants to take the country.