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Pop star Taylor Swift jumped into the rough and tumble of politics with a rebuke of Tennessee Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn and an endorsement of Democrat Phil Bredesen.
In a long Instagram post, Swift explained that her concern over matters of gender orientation and racism drove her to speak out.
"I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love," Swift said.
Blackburn, Swift said, "terrifies" her.
"She voted against equal pay for women," Swift wrote. "She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape."
Here, we look at whether Blackburn in fact voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.
Blackburn did vote against the bill, but she voted in favor of a Republican alternative. The differences were not great, but they hung on the very issue of gender orientation that Swift wrote about.
The Violence Against Women Act was two decades old in 2013 when Congress wrestled with renewing the funds to support it. The law paid for programs to prevent domestic violence. It provided money to investigate and prosecute rape and other crimes against women. It supported counseling for victims.
The $630 million price tag was less the problem than some specific language on non-discrimination.
The Senate approved its bill first on Feb. 12, 2013, by a wide bipartisan margin of 78 to 22. That measure redefined underserved populations to include those who might be discriminated against based on religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.
There were also changes in the recognition of the authority of Native American tribes to enforce the law within the tribal justice system. When the bill came over to the House, a key sticking point had to do with orientation and identity.
House Republicans crafted a version of the legislation that omitted the sexual orientation and gender protections. The American Bar Association opposed the GOP version, saying "the House substitute eliminates certain critical improvements."
Domestic violence shelters in some southern states said they had heard from governors’ offices that they couldn’t use federal funds for LGBTQ victims because the law didn’t explicitly say they were covered.
"You show up bleeding at the door and we’re going to address the bleeding, not stop to ask about your sexual orientation or gender identity first," said Ruth Glenn, CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "We didn’t want programs to lose their funding because they didn’t do triage on that basis."
The House Republican version failed by a vote of 166 to 257. The nay votes included 60 Republicans.
Blackburn voted in favor of the Republican measure.
The Senate version, the one that ultimately became law, came up next and passed 286 to 138. The bill had picked up 27 additional Republican votes. Blackburn voted no.
We reached out to Blackburn’s office for comment and did not hear back.
Swift said Blackburn voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. Blackburn voted no on the final version that became law.
She did vote for a Republican alternative that lacked discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While there were other issues, over two dozen Republicans decided that it was better to fund the act than to continue to oppose the nondiscrimination provisions. Blackburn was not one of them.
We rate the claim Mostly True.
Taylor Swift, Instagram, Oct. 7, 2018
U.S. Congress, Republican amendment, Feb. 28, 2013
U.S. Congress, S.47 - Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, Jan. 22, 2013
U.S. Congress, Congressional record, Feb. 28, 2013
American Bar Association, Letter, Feb. 27, 2013
New York Times, House Renews Violence Against Women Measure, Feb. 28, 2013
Congressional Research Service, The Violence Against Women Act: Overview, Legislation, and Federal Funding , May 26, 2015
The Atlantic, Why Would Anyone Oppose the Violence Against Women Act?, Feb. 12, 2013
USA Today, What about her reputation? Taylor Swift's political stance draws praise, backlash, Oct. 8, 2018
Harper’s Bazaar, Twitter Is Freaking Out About Taylor Swift's Political Instagram Post, Oct. 8, 2018
Email interview, Ruth Glenn, CEO, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Oct. 9, 2018
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