South Carolina's been working on a bill to educate teens about relationship violence, since the state ranks pretty high when it comes to men who kill women. They've been debating this over the past week, and the stickler has been whether gay relationships would be discussed in the program. Because heaven forbid gay teens learn how to avoid relationship violence.
The amendment to remove gay and lesbian relationships from the bill passed 75-25 and came with the usual right-wing rhetoric:
"I do not want the Department of Education or school districts teaching our children in grades six through 12 about same-sex relationships," said Rep. Greg Delleney, a Chester Republican who pushed to make the violence prevention program apply only to heterosexual relationships. "I'm sure it would develop into that."
But here's one of the bill's sponsors saying that it's all good to take out the gays, because it's not like that sort of violence happens:
Bill sponsor Rep. Joan Brady said excluding gay relationships is fine and declared that, "Traditional domestic violence occurs in a man-woman, boy-girl situation."
"The fact is, this is a gender-specific, abusive behavior. The overwhelming predominance of dating abuse occurs in a traditional or heterosexual relationship," said Brady, R-Columbia.
Get that? "Traditional domestic violence" is between one man and one woman.
Moreover, it's a pretty dumb thing to say. I'm sorry that reality doesn't comport with Rep. Brady's worldview, but domestic violence does occur in same-sex relationships. Maybe she thinks that it wouldn't happen in the sisterhood, but it does. Or maybe she thinks that men would be able to defend themselves from another man, but that's not always true.
That's what makes relationship violence so awful, people allow themselves to be open and intimate with another person who abuses that trust. But there's nothing particularly heterosexual about it.
However, a 2004 Journal of Adolescent Health study found that youths involved in same-sex dating are just as likely to experience dating violence as those in relationships with members of the opposite sex.
Brady later said she was comparing total numbers of violent relationships - of which there are more between partners of the opposite sex. She also said her information came from the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault. Group spokeswoman Rebecca Williams-Agee said while sheer numbers show most dating violence cases involve boys abusing girls, all groups need to be considered, especially gay teens who may already be facing issues with their sexual orientation in a conservative state.
"When it comes to advocating for people, you don't get to choose who to advocate for. No one deserves to be hurt or violated in any way," Williams-Agee said.
Well, yeah, raw numbers are going to show that there are more violent heterosexual relationships than there are gay ones. But that's because there are around 20 times more heterosexuals in this country, and I'm sure the relationship numbers follow.
The problem here is that SC queer teens are going to tune out of this program just like they do every other exclusively heterosexual program, thinking that it doesn't apply to them. Hell, a lot of them might even think that it can't happen in a same-sex relationship.
But it happens in same-sex couples, just like it happens in seemingly "perfect" families, just like it happens among rich people, just like it happens in Christian families, just like it happens in college professors' homes....
I've been around long enough to see relationship violence happen between two men more than a few times. Since a lot of people involved in those situations read this site, I'm not going to get into more detail about that, but suffice it to say it's enough for me to wonder how Rep. Brady arrived at her ridiculous conclusion.
Yes, I know she's another Republican trying to justify her vote to take the gays out, but she should have just stuck with the "No one will discuss homosexuality in front of teh childrenz!" argument. It's so banal at this point that people wouldn't have even noticed that she made it.