Ed Martin Opposes the Violence Against Women Act, Yet Claims He Cares About Battered Women

Political operative Ed Martin (Image from 2017 appearance on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360)

Right-wing activist Ed Martin says he cares about battered women—just not when it involves supporting the Violence Against Women Act. And his justification for that stance rests on an anti-trans argument that has found a home in many right-wing circles: that trans inclusion puts cisgender women at risk.  

Martin, the president of the Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, warned listeners of the Nov. 26 edition of his daily “Phyllis Schlafly Report” commentary of the specter of “gender-neutral bathrooms and men in battered women’s shelters.” Defending HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s transphobic September comments that “big, hairy men” would infiltrate women’s shelters, Martin said “the last thing we need to do is force them to share bedrooms and shower facilities with strange and confused men.”

The comments come after weeks of attacks on the Equal Rights Amendment, which would grant women and men equal rights under the Constitution were it to be ratified by the required number of states (38). Conservative groups, however, claim it wouldn’t give women any more rights than they already have and would erase any distinction between men and women. The opposition movement to the ERA in the 1970s and ‘80s was led by Phyllis Schlafly. Martin continued such attacks without reference to the ERA by name.

“Anti-feminist icons like Phyllis Schlafly warned Americans for years that liberals wanted to destroy every distinction between men and women that is recognized by our society,” Martin said. “Pro-family advocates warned of gender-neutral bathrooms and men in battered women’s shelters … Not only do they want to scrub common sense gender distinctions from society, but they want to call anyone a bigot if they don’t conform.”

Martin was particularly upset that Carson had been called a bigot for his anti-trans remarks, with which Martin agrees. 

“That is the case for Dr. Ben Carson, who serves as our secretary for housing and urban development,” Martin said. “He told HUD staff that directors of women’s shelters were concerned about ‘big, hairy men’ claiming to be transgender women in order to gain admission. Obviously, that is a very real problem.”

“The women who go to battered women’s shelters are going there because they and their children have been traumatized, likely by an abusive relationship with a man,” Martin continued. “The last thing we need to do is force them to share bedrooms and shower facilities with strange and confused men.”

Strangely enough, Martin has no problem suggesting that such battered women and their children remain in an abusive relationship. In May, Martin claimed that the Violence Against Women Act, which offers protections to victims of violence, “does nothing to help women,” and was apparently upset that the law has helped women leave abusive partners and, perhaps worst of all, file charges against their abusers.  

“Rather than putting the woman first, [VAWA] creates a rigid system that seeks to separate men and women wherever possible and break up families far too often,” Martin said in May, adding, “That does nothing to help women.”

In his commentary last week, Martin continued to defend Carson, attacked feminists for being supportive of transgender individuals, and suggested that transgender individuals were mentally ill. 

“Yet, Dr. Carson was lambasted across mainstream and social media for being ‘transphobic’ and ‘bigoted,’” Martin said. “You’ve got to wonder how the party of feminism can look at men sneaking into battered women’s shelters and be so outraged about the rights of the men being violated.” 

“The left may use transgenderism to continue their crusade to make America gender-neutral, but fighting biology is an uphill battle,” he added. “We need to give gender-confused people the counseling they need, not play into their destructive delusion by punishing those who stand for truth.”

The renewed, transphobic attacks on the ERA have intensified since the Nov. 5 election in Virginia, which turned the state blue and breathed new life into the ERA. (Martin also ran in the Virginia elections and lost.) Passed by Congress in 1972, the amendment needed 38 states to ratify it, but efforts by conservative activists led by Schlafly were key to stopping the legislation from advancing. With Democratic majorities today, Virginia may very well become the 38th state to ratify the ERA.