Domestic violence is not unique to America, but its death is.
Every 14 hours, an American woman is shot and killed in an act of domestic violence. Domestic abusers who own guns are five times more likely to kill their partner than those who don’t. For years, our country’s laws have compounded this problem, preserving the so-called boyfriend loophole that allows abusers to keep their guns if their victim is someone they’re dating – even if committing the same crime against their spouse would mean that they would have to confiscate their weapons.
Washington leaders on both sides of the aisle recently passed legislation aimed at closing the boyfriend loophole and saving lives by reducing gun violence. But unfortunately, Florida Senator Marco Rubio voted against it. Rubio has opposed closing the boyfriend loophole for years. In 2019, he supported the gutting of the Violence Against Women Act and the exclusion of a provision to close the loophole. It’s no surprise why. The gun lobby has long opposed closing the boyfriend loophole, and Rubio has benefited from more than $3.3 million in campaign spending on his behalf from the NRA.
Rubio’s record of putting politics before victims of crime goes beyond his failure to address the epidemic of gun violence. The Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade brought to the fore Rubio’s record of support measures to restrict Floridians’ freedom to control their own bodies.
Rubio has long made it known that he would support abortion bans that force victims of rape or incest to give birth. Time and time again, he has said that he personally does not believe that victims of these violent crimes should have the right to make their own reproductive health choices. He even went so far as to say that he would support banning abortion even though 100% of Floridians disagreed with him. And when Florida lawmakers recently passed a law banning abortion without exception for rape, incest or human trafficking, Rubio supported it.
Rubio’s lack of compassion for the victims of these horrific crimes dates back to his early days in the Florida Legislature. He supported Florida’s so-called Scarlet Letter Law, which required women to publish their sex stories in their local newspaper, humiliating them so they could move forward with the adoption process. This law made no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, meaning that women would have to risk further contact with their abusers in addition to the public shame encouraged by the law.
As a mother, public safety is one of my main concerns. At least the leaders we send to Washington should have our safety as a top priority, which means supporting legislation that will punish criminals, stop violent crimes, and support victims.
That’s why it’s so disappointing to see Rubio putting his own political agenda ahead of those who have suffered domestic violence, sexual assault and incest. The victims of these crimes deserve nothing less than leaders who will fight to protect them and work across the aisle on new measures to prevent these crimes from happening again. There is no excuse for putting campaign donations or political points ahead of these victims. But that’s exactly what Marco Rubio did.
Franzella Guido Chacon is a mother and gun violence prevention advocate in Miami.