‘Equity has clearly taken the day off’
By Guy Page
A few Republican lawmakers fumed about gender inequality following the roll call vote approving the so-called ‘stealthing’ bill Friday.
The bill prohibits ‘stealthing,’ AKA removing a condom without a sex partner’s knowledge or consent. The Vermont House of Representatives Friday, March 3 voted overwhelmingly 121-12 in favor of H.40, “nonconsensual removal of or tampering with a sexually protective device.”
Republicans in general agreed with the concept of the bill but some took issue with selectively focusing on male contraception. The only ‘sexually protective device’ covered by H.40 is the male-controlled condom – not birth control pills, or IUDs, or other birth control generally under the control of women.
These Republicans entered comments into the record after the vote:
Rep. Tom Burditt of West Rutland, who raised the same issue in the House Judiciary Committee: “I have no issue with what this bill does. I have an issue with ignoring the equality which is written in our U.S. Constitution, our Vermont Constitution, and is part of our oath of office.”
Rep. Anne Donahue of Northfield: “I need to be responsible for my actions as much as I expect it of men. This bill wrongly suggest that only men engage in the sexual assault that occurs when consent is based on perpetration of a lie.”
Rep. James Gregoire of Fairfield: “If we are sincere about protecting victims, then we cannot live in denial that similar acts do occur to men. No matter how that may not fit a narrative, it is all too true and devastating for male victims. If it has not happened to you, then you are lucky, by that I mean that it is wrong to discount that it has happened to men.”
Rep. Patti McCoy of Poultney, Republican Minority Leader: “While I voted yes on this bill, I am disappointed we did not vet this bill from our “equity lens” view when drafting and ultimately passing this bill.”
Rep. Mike Morgan of Milton: “I voted yes and I am in support of the structural foundations of the bill but I’m disappointed with the lack of equity in the bill.”
Rep. Terri Lynn Williams of Granby: “I do support the intent in this bill but as we continue to work for equity in the people’s house, I do not find that in this bill, therefore I cannot support it.”
One Democrat, John Arrison of Weathersfield, voted no. Two Democrats explained their support for the bill.
Rep. Dolan of Essex Junction: It is especially meaningful for me to support this bill today with my two children with us in the Chamber. They and Vermonters deserve a decision that looks out for their safety, health, and future.”
Rep. Troy Headrick of Burlington:
“Men are certainly victimized by sexual harassment and sexual assault as well. And, in some cases women perpetrate the behavior. However, Dr. Koss and countless other research studies will confirm that the vast majority of instances of sexual assault, rape, and attempted rape will identify a man as the perpetrator. This includes men who have been assaulted and raped by other men. Sexual violence harms women at overwhelmingly far greater rates than it does men. That is the only concern for equity that belongs in today’s Discussion.”
The last word went to Republican Rep. Joe Parsons of Newbury: “I voted no today. Looking at all pieces of legislation through the lens of equity has clearly taken the day off.”