“Yes On 107”: Battered Women’s Shelters Should Be Open to Men

Yes on 107 reveals their true colours on battered women's shelters. (Sorry for the crappy Photoshop job above.)

Things that disturb me definitely include having a registered ballot proposition group follow my blogging actions so closely as to post not one, but two, response pieces to my writing within 24 hours of their publication. Me? Really? Shouldn't you be canvassing or fund-raising or something remotely — I don't know — political on the night before Election Day, and not fanatically pestering some random blogger with attempts to start blog beef?

In this case, in response to my piece on Proposition 107 and battered women's shelters, Yes on 107 (aka Intellectual Conservative Arizona) labels me a "Chicken Little" for laying out exactly how battered women's shelters and breast cancer screening programs are threatened by Proposition 107.

Let's lay this one out, shall we?

Yes on 107 trots out the same tired argument that I originally, and explicitly addressed in my post:

First of all, the language only bans government preferences in hiring, contracting and higher education. Domestic violence shelters and breast cancer screening programs do not fall within those areas. 

Hmm, arguing against my post by simply re-stating your position? This is the blogging equivalent of repeating your argument, only louder, as if the increase in volume suddenly adds logic to your point. My post, How Proposition 107 Threatens Battered Women’s Shelters and Breast Cancer Screening Programs, already laid out how in California, expansion of the scope of Prop 209 beyond "hiring, contracting and higher education" opened the gates up to other state-funded programs. I wrote how it's true that the language of Prop 107 doesn't relate to public services, but I also explained how because its language is vague and subject to legal interpretation, that a lawsuit would be necessary to establish the law's true scope. In California, that lawsuit was Connerly vs. State Personnel Board.

 Yes on 107 dismisses the fact that lawsuits will need to be filed to establish scope, hanging their entire "Chicken Little" characterization on this bizarre assertion. Yet, any scholar of state law knows that lawsuits that establish scope of new legislation is par for the course. Yes on 107 should be particularly well-versed on this fact: it was their leader, Ward Connerly, who filed Connerly vs. State Personnel Board

Then, Yes on 107 says:

Secondly, any program in risk of being eliminated just has to open its services up to men. 

Which, again, is true. If shelters for battered women opened their doors to men, they absolutely wouldn't be threatened by Proposition 209 or Proposition 107.

The argument almost makes sense — if you have no understanding of the plight of abused women, who have been raped, assaulted and otherwise psychologically and emotionally tormented by their male partners, and who are seeking a male-free safe space to recover from their trauma. It almost makes sense, if you ignore the fact that the very male-free nature of these shelters is what makes them a viable option for women who have recently been raped and assaulted by men. But, sure, Yes on 107: you're welcome to claim the "Pro-Psychologically Torturing Battered Women" side of this particular argument. Have at it.

Heck, Yes on 107 even reveals their true colours when it comes to battered women's shelters:

Would it be unfortunate if some men's rights groups filed lawsuits to attempt to stop these kinds of services from operating? It might not even cost taxpayers any money, since a judge could choose to require the men's groups when they inevitably lose to pay costs and fees, based on them losing in the past in California.

Y'know, I — honestly — wouldn't have even thought to accuse any side of this argument of not being interested in protecting battered women's shelters from damaging lawsuits. But, you really can't make so damning and so cavalier a statement up.

For the record, I do think that supporting a men's rights group's actions to stop the operation of battered women's shelters is "unfortunate". Also, I would say "devastating" to the many silent victims of domestic violence who look to these shelters as their last hope for escape and recovery. I think it's immoral and unprincipled to even suggest that these shelters — which save lives of abused women every day — aren't important to our community.

By contrast, Yes on 107 apparently doesn't find it all that "unfortunate" if men's rights groups threatened battered women's shelters with lawsuits, even if they "inevitably" (or not so inevitably: there's no guarantee that Arizona judges will decide as California judges did in a similar case) lose.

Yes on 107 also supports the National Coalition of Free Men's argument that breast cancer screening programs should also provide preventative screening services to the same degree for men as they do for women. Never mind that men make up less than two percent of all breast cancer cases, Yes on 107 and NCFM sees prejudice in public screening programs that focus on the women who make up 98% of breast cancer diagnoses, and would rather that these programs shut down than to continue targeting women for prevention and treatment. 

(Also, never mind that Proposition 107 doesn't provide additional funding to either battered women's shelters or to breast cancer screening programs in order to handle the additional case loads introduced by catering to both genders. I guess Yes on 107 thinks that money grows on trees — which, if you're financially backed by a wealthy Northern California political action fund, is pretty close to the truth, I suppose.)

Yes on 107 asserts that breast cancer screening programs might constitute an example of a bona fide sex difference. Yet, even in their very post, they underscore the basic problem of Proposition 107: we have no real idea what the true scope of Proposition 107 actually is. Yes on 107 writes:

Same goes for breast cancer screening programs, and those would probably have even more likelihood of being permitted to remain as women-only, since they likely constitute a bona fide sex difference between men and women. 

Note the words "probably" and "likely". There is no certainty there. This is, in a nutshell, the problem with Proposition 107: there is deliberate vagueness in the wording of the proposition. If public services programs are outside of the scope of Proposition 107, why the quibbling over whether or not breast cancer screening programs might, or might not, constitute a "bona fide sex difference"? Better yet, how can people who authored this piece of legislation, who call it "carefully crafted and precisely worded", not really know whether a breast cancer screening program constitute a bona fide sex difference?

The truth is that proponents of Proposition 107 know exactly how vague the wording of this ballot measure are. They know that passage of this ballot proposition is only step one; and that step two is to file a lawsuit, as they did in Connerly vs. State Personnel Board to expand the scope of the ballot proposition beyond the voters' original intention. They know this, because this is exactly what happened in California.

Finally, Yes on 107 argues that the costs of such lawsuits isn't so great.

It might not even cost taxpayers any money, since a judge could choose to require the men's groups when they inevitably lose to pay costs and fees, based on them losing in the past in California. The men's groups may file lawsuits like this anyway, with or without Prop. 107 being in existence, citing other parts of the Constitution, as they did in the California lawsuits. 

It's true that NCFM lost their lawsuit, and that a frivolous lawsuit might cost a group like NCFM the cost of legal fees for both sides. Yet, what Yes on 107 isn't telling you is that in Connerly vs. State Personnel Board, Ward Connerly successfully lobbied to have the state agencies pay the legal fees associated with this case. This decision was upheld by the California Court of Appeals. I couldn't find the total amount that Connerly vs. State Personnel Board cost the state of California, but I'm guessing it's somewhere in the ball park of "a lot".

Why isn't Yes on 107 letting you know about that cost to taxpayers, let alone the strain that this will put on Arizona's legal system?

In addition, Yes on 107 complains that my original post depended on a fair amount of "if's" — yet, this is the very argument that they use to suggest that the lawsuits won't cost taxpayers money. In fact, my "if's" aren't if's at all; they are based on verifiable legal precedent that took place in California. On the other hand, Yes on 107 relies on an "if" statement to suggest that taxpayers won't be saddled with a hefty bill with Proposition 107's passage: IF a group files a lawsuit that fails to win, and IF a judge elects to penalize that group with attorney fees, only then will taxpayers not have to pony up. But, what about all those lawsuits that actually find a state agency or program in violation of the ballot measure? Proposition 107 doesn't inform you that, as taxpayers, you will be paying for the inevitable lawsuits that will be sorting those issues out, and nothing but tax money will be able to cover the costs of hearing those cases.

Yes on 107 spuriously says:

This time the left wing  Blog for Arizona is claiming that domestic violence shelters and breast cancer screening programs for women could possibly be eliminated. 

[…]

This is just another Chicken Little "sky is falling" attempt to come up with the absolute worst possible case scenario, which isn't going to happen based on prior history in states where this initiative has passed. 

But, my post was not based in wild conjecture, nor do I even suggest that women's shelters will actually be eliminated. In fact, in my post, I explicitly state:

It would be non-factual to say that with passage of Proposition 107, women’s shelters and breast cancer screening programs would cease to exist in Arizona; this is not the argument I am making, nor would such an argument be supported by the fact that California statutes, independent of Proposition 209, protect funding for women’s health. Let’s be clear: California still has domestic women’s shelters and breast cancer screening programs.

As I write in my post, Proposition 107 threatens women's shelters and breast cancer screening programs by targeting them with punitive legal fights that strain the resources of that otherwise allow them to operate. The financial and political costs to these programs are high, as are the dangers to women who might be discouraged from seeking out the services of these programs as a result of the legal battle. And, as Yes on 107 so kindly pointed out for us, supporters of Proposition 107 really don't mind if battered women's shelters close their doors as a result.

Nowhere do I "imagine" a "worst case scenario". I present to you, as readers, the actual history of lawsuits that has taken place in California as a result of Proposition 209's passage. You, the voter, deserve to hear all the facts surrounding this ballot measure, which includes simple facts from California like: after Proposition 209 passed, several key lawsuits were filed that threatened the funding of breast cancer screening programs and domestic violence prevention programs and shelters.

The worst case scenario, in this case, is not make-believe: it's documented. We have the case law from California to prove that the worst case scenario is exactly what supporters of Proposition 107 want to have happen here in Arizona.

Oh, and as an aside —  in the many assertions that Yes on 107 gets wrong in their rebuttal, they got another big one wrong. I am not "the Proposition 107 opposition". I am not, in fact, affiliated with any No on 107 group. I am not part of some blogosphere-wide conspiracy to launch some "last-minute" effort. I'm just a concerned Arizona resident who writes about politics. So, just so you know — it's not one great big conspiracy: bloggers really just don't like Proposition 107, and they're writing about it.

Please vote No tomorrow on Proposition 107, because apparently the other side just doesn't believe battered women's shelters should be protected. And no, I wouldn't have even made that shit up, but sometimes the other side just hands you a quote you can't pass up.

Cross-posted: Reappropriate

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