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Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GOWDY. Nell Lindsey was a nurse at a local hospital. Her shift had ended, and it was time to go home. She couldn't take her own car because her husband had disabled the car so it wouldn't work. This is the same husband who had broken her jaw on a family vacation, the same husband who had knocked out her teeth in an Applebee's parking lot while her children watched, the same husband who had called their oldest son a sexual-orientation epithet, and put beer in the baby bottle of their youngest child.

So Nell Lindsey got a ride home from the hospital from work with a friend of hers. And as they were headed home, they saw an ominous sight, Madam Speaker. They saw the car of her estranged husband. Now, he had been ordered to stay away from her, Madam Speaker, but he didn't care. And there was a conditional bond to stay away from her, but he didn't care. And there was a court order, an order of protection to stay away from her, but he didn't care.

And when Nell Lindsey and her friend saw that ominous sight of Marion Lindsey in a car, they did a very smart thing, Madam Speaker. They headed straight for the Inman Police Department. And they're jumping over railroad tracks, and they're running stop signs, and they're running red lights. And Nell gets out her cell phone and she calls 911. And she says, Please help, please help.

So they pull into the back parking lot of the Inman Police Department, and she still has the cell phone to her ear, and through the audiotape that we played at trial, Madam Speaker, you could hear Nell Lindsey saying, Please help, please help. And then you heard four gunshots. And when they took her body out of the back seat of that car, she still had the cell phone in her hand.

The system failed Nell Lindsey, Madam Speaker. She did everything we tell battered and abused women to do. The courts couldn't save her, the prosecutors couldn't save her. Her husband's on death row, but that doesn't save her. But even in her death, Madam Speaker, she did something good because she spawned changes in South Carolina in the way that we treat violence against women.

And with the help of Violence Against Women grants, like the ones that are at jeopardy today, with the help of those grants, and a woman named Lynn Hawkins, who I must concede, Madam Speaker, does not share my political ideology in any way, shape, or form, but she put the political sloganeering and the bumper stickers behind and she said, let's change the system in South Carolina, and we did it. It wasn't in time to save Nell Lindsey, but it was in time to save a graveyard full of other women in our State.

So I'm going to ask simply this, Madam Speaker: Can we stop the election-year gimmicks? Can we stop these manufactured wars that pit one group of Americans against another group of Americans?

I spent 16 years prosecuting men who raped, stabbed, strangled, shot, and killed women. I have a mother, a wife, a daughter, three sisters, and the images of countless women indelibly imprinted on my mind because they were killed by men who claimed to care about them.

This is not about politics to me. If you want to make women safer, then change the way we draw juries, change the discovery rules, improve the rape shield statute. But stop focusing on November's election for just one afternoon and wonder with me what good we can accomplish if we will stop the political games, and if we could pick up some humanity and embrace the fact that, even in a political environment as dysfunctional as this one, we can find common ground when it comes to fighting for those who have no voice, who have nobody to stand up for them.

Madam Speaker, the political games have to stop, at least for a day. They have to stop. If this bill fails, it will be because those on the other side were so bent on making a point that they stopped caring about making a difference.

Madam Speaker, the Senate bill is fundamentally and constitutionally flawed. Further, to say, Madam Chair, it continues to pit one group of Americans against another group of Americans solely for political reasons. Lady Justice doesn't do that, and politicians shouldn't do it either. I urge support for this bill.


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