Franken’s anti-rape amendment becomes law

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, December 21, 2009 19:35 EDT
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Over the unexplained objections of 30 Republican Senators, an anti-rape amendment authored by Senator Al Franken (D-MN) became law Monday with President Obama’s signature on the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010.

The provision was sparked by the gang-rape of a 19-year-old Kellogg, Brown & Root employee by her coworkers in Iraq. After returning to the United States, Jamie Leigh Jones found she couldn’t sue the company because of a clause in her employment contract.

Franken’s amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act prohibits companies from using employment contracts to bar litigation over sexual assault or discrimination.

When the Senate took up Franken’s measure, 30 Republicans voted against it. None cared to explain why, with some suggesting it’s simply not the government’s business to rewrite employment contracts.

In an especially well-publicized confrontation, a tearful Jones asking Senator David Vitter (R-LA) why he wouldn’t support the amendment. He simply walked away.

The group of Senators eventually become a target of a satirical Web site called “Republicans for Rape.”

It was also opposed by the Obama administration and the Department of Defense, though the president declared that he supports the “intent” of the amendment.

The administration came around to supporting the amendment after two key changes were made. “The restriction will only apply to companies whose contracts with the government amounts to $1 million or more (which includes most defense contractors),” noted Talking Points Memo. “It can also be waived for national security concerns — but the secretary of defense will have to personally explain the waiver.”

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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