In the 1980’s Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal were both in the Georgia Senate. They were both Democrats, and they were both lawyers, and when it came to protecting women, that’s where their similarities ended. You already know about Nathan Deal’s sponsorship of legislation that would have humiliated women by making victims answer to their rapists. It turns out, that was only the tip of the iceberg. During his twelve year career in the Georgia Senate, Deal repeatedly refused to step up to protect victims of domestic violence.

In 1981, then-State Senator Roy Barnes authored legislation that allowed police to arrest, without warrant, individuals suspected of committing violent acts against their spouses. Advocates for battered women hailed the bill as a “new awareness” of the plight of battered women. What did Nathan Deal do? He took to the well of the Georgia Senate to complain that the bill would place an unreasonable workload on superior court judges and give far-reaching arrest powers to police.

Like the power to arrest the man the battered woman is terrified to prosecute???

At the end of the day, Nathan Deal was one of only seven in the Georgia Senate to vote against Barnes’ landmark legislation, a bill that ultimately did become law.

This would not be the last time Nathan Deal failed to step up for women. Between 1981 and 1988, Deal failed, on FOUR separate occasions to support legislation strengthening laws protecting victims of domestic violence. On one of those occasions, he was the lone voice of opposition.

I would guess that everyone who reads this post knows a woman who has been a victim of domestic violence, a woman who has been hurt by someone she loves. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, in 2009 alone there were 62,156 reported cases of domestic violence in this state. To me, these are not stale statistics. The number brings to mind the names and faces of real women. For the last twenty-four years, in both my professional and volunteer work, I have had the opportunity to work with countless victims of domestic violence and with the shelters and other agencies that seek to intervene, offer support and help to end the cycle of violence. In Georgia, family violence is an epidemic that impacts not only the battered spouse but also the children who often witness the violence. The tragic consequences are both physical and emotional, and the scars can last a lifetime. Politics aside, I am outraged that Nathan Deal could not see his way clear to join his colleagues in bipartisan support of legislation that helped to protect these vulnerable women and their children. Worse yet, he thought by opposing the bill he was protecting the “sanctity of the family.” Those “family values,” I think we can do without.

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7 Responses to Family Values?

  1. Therebel says:

    Hey I know a women who was abused. well not personally…but I believe the alledged perpetrator was Jason Goldfarb Shepherd the stellar candidate on District 37…BUT it is alledged..heck I don’t want to get sued by him..lol

  2. JerryT says:

    65,000 in one year? Good Lord I had no idea.

  3. JMPrince says:

    Thanks for the clarification Amy, and this is disallowed elsewhere too, if not exactly universally:
    “…but to also be subjected to questions about their sexual history, dress and demeanor, testimony that is now typically excluded in Georgia” [from rape victims]. JMP

  4. Amy Morton says:

    Yes, I agree that I could have been more clear. I am referring to the fact that the legislation Deal sponsored in 1991 initially included language that would have required rape victims not only to testify about the attack but to also be subjected to questions about their sexual history, dress and demeanor, testimony that is now typically excluded in Georgia.

  5. Jen B. says:

    “You already know about Nathan Deal’s sponsorship of legislation that would have humiliated women by making victims answer to their rapists.”

    I disagree with your language here. Defendants confronting their accusers is called the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment. But, I know it’s easy to hate on rapists and Nathan Deal.