Marco Rubio puts his own agenda ahead of crime victims

By Franzella Guido Chacon / Sun Sentinel

Domestic abuse is not unique to America, but its deadliness is.

Every 14 hours an American woman is shot to death in an act of domestic violence. Domestic abusers who own guns are five times more likely to kill their partners than those who do not. For years, our nation’s laws have made this problem worse, preserving the so-called boyfriend loophole that allows abusers to keep their firearms if their victim is someone they are dating — even if committing the same crime against their spouse would mean they would have to forfeit their guns.

Leaders in Washington on both sides of the aisle just recently passed legislation to close the boyfriend loophole and save lives by reducing gun violence. But sadly, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio voted against it. Rubio has opposed closing the boyfriend loophole for years. In 2019, he supported gutting the Violence Against Women Act and to exclude 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 ahead of victims of crime goes beyond his failure to address the epidemic of gun violence. The Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade has brought Rubio’s years-long record of supporting measures to restrict Floridians’ freedom to control their own bodies back to the forefront.

Rubio has long made it clear that he would support abortion bans that would force victims of rape or incest to give birth. Time after time, he has said that he personally does not believe the victims of these violent crimes should have a right to make their own reproductive health care choices. He even went so far as to say he would support abortion bans even if 100% of Floridians disagreed with him. And when Florida legislators recently passed a law to ban abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest, or human trafficking, Rubio supported it.

Rubio’s lack of compassion for victims of these horrible crimes extends back to his earliest days in the Florida Legislature. He supported Florida’s so-called scarlet letter law, which required women to publish their sexual histories in their local newspaper, humiliating them in order for them to move forward in the adoption process. That law made no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, meaning women would have to risk further contact with their abusers in addition to the public shaming the law encouraged.

As a mother, public safety is one of my top concerns. If nothing else, the leaders we send to Washington should have our safety as their top priority, which means supporting legislation that will punish criminals, stop violent crime and support victims.

That’s why it’s so disappointing to see Rubio put his own political agenda ahead of those who have suffered domestic abuse, sexual assault and incest. 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’s no excuse for putting campaign donations or political points ahead of these victims. But that’s exactly what Marco Rubio has done.

Franzella Guido Chacon is a mother and gun violence prevention advocate from Miami.