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State Representative Melissa Ziobron (R-34), candidate for State Senate, who once served on the Public Health and Children’s Committee, demonstrates a shameful disregard for the epidemic of sexual assault on our college campuses. Her vote against HB 5376, intended to protect victims of sexual assault by establishing a threshold in campus investigations, was clearly a missed opportunity to demonstrate leadership and compassion on behalf of survivors.
The bill, An Act Concerning Affirmative Consent, passed in 2016, defines consent as both parties involved in sexual activity affirmatively agreeing to it. In other words, “yes means yes.” The law requires all Connecticut colleges to adopt policies of affirmative consent as a standard in defining sexual assault. It also provides for the care and treatment of college students who are victimized. Ziobron was one of seven legislators to oppose the bill, while at the same time acknowledging the need for “vital services to assist victims.” As the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, who touts her fiscal conservatism, it seems hypocritical to defend her vote against affirmative consent by blaming the Democrats for budget cuts to essential programs (HB 5044). Yet, that is her argument for voting against legislation that would protect victims, most of whom are women.
Sexual violence is a scourge in our society and progress toward resolution is slow. Representative Ziobron has attended hearings illuminating the magnitude of sexual violence on campuses, in the military, and in our communities, and is also aware of urgent requests from service providers to fund rape crisis programs. Why then would she vote against proposed legislation to protect victims and to provide the services they need? We depend on enlightened and emboldened leaders to inspire change. As informed women voters, there is no reason to believe that Melissa Ziobron is that leader.
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