Activists are concerned with Donald Trump’s nomination to lead the Office on Violence Against Women. His nominee is Shannon Lee Goessling, a Republican with an anti-LGBTI and pro-gun record.
This office is an organization that works with victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and more. They administer grants to help support these victims in a variety of ways.
When first announcing her nomination to the position, Trump and the White House praised her legal and business records. They specifically noted her time as director of the Crimes Against Women and Children Prosecution Unit in Atlanta, which she earned after serving almost a decade as a state prosecutor.
She only held the position for nine months, however.
Many advocates worry her lack of experience with domestic violence makes her an inappropriate nominee for the position.
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, told the Huffington Post: ‘This is a top job, for God’s sake. You should have a person here who has experience in this field.’
Worrisome conservative experience
Others are concerned her conservative views and advocacy will mean she won’t properly serve LGBTI victims or people of color.
Goessling spent a large portion of her career, from 2004 to 2015, as the executive director and chief legal counsel of Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF), a conservative legal group.
While Goessling was employed at SLF, they advocated for a ban on same-sex marriage and also sued the governor of Alabama for offering driver’s license exams in non-English languages.
In 2009, the organization also challenged the US Environmental Protection Agency’s report. The report stated climate change threatens public health and future generations, with humans mainly responsible.
Smeal continued: ‘In each of these different communities, there [are] different complexities. The person who runs the office must not only understand that, but also be sympathetic to it.
‘We’re worried that a vote for her would exclude LGBTQ and immigrant survivors from protections and resources.’
Advocacy for guns
Some activists expressed concerns specifically about Goessling’s pro-gun stance.
In 2007, following the deadly shooting at Virginia Tech, Goessling reportedly said at a panel on gun rights that her ‘best friend is my Glock’.
One year later, she wrote an amicus brief arguing that possession of firearms helps protect women from sexual violence.
Susan Sorenson, a gun violence researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, said no research supports this claim, however.
‘Some might find it to be an appealing idea, but we don’t have any research that supports it,’ she explained. ‘What we do know is that women who purchase a handgun are more likely, in the days, weeks, months and years afterwards, to be the victim of homicide and suicide.’
While it is not known precisely how many LGBTI people are the victims of gun violence, guns are responsible for the majority of preventable violence. They account for 68% of homicides in the US each year. The presence of gun increases the risks for both homicide and suicide.