House Passes the More Inclusive Violence Against Women Act

House Passes the More Inclusive Violence Against Women Act

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Photo: Cobalt
Photo: Cobalt

The Violence Against Women Act, first introduced in 1994, helps individuals who have been victims of domestic violence by providing funding for shelters, investigation and prosecution of violent crime, and increased education for the courts and law enforcement on how to address domestic violence.

The newly reauthorized Violence Against Women Act includes vital LGBT-inclusive provisions to promote access to justice and resources for all victims without the threat of discrimination.

President Obama said, “I was pleased to see the House of Representatives come together and vote to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act. Over more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and transformed the way we treat victims of abuse. Today’s vote will go even further by continuing to reduce domestic violence, improving how we treat victims of rape, and extending protections to Native American women and members of the LGBT community. The bill also reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, providing critical support for both international and domestic victims of trafficking and helping ensure traffickers are brought to justice.  I want to thank leaders from both parties – especially Leader Pelosi, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Senator Leahy – for everything they’ve done to make this happen. Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk.”

“The National LGBT Bar Association represents countless prosecutors, judges and advocates who have seen firsthand how domestic violence affects individuals regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We are grateful that the Violence Against Women Act will now be a powerful tool to protect our community and ensure justice is served,” said D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the National LGBT Bar Association.

Kemnitz added, “It is unfortunate, but we know that our community is not immune to domestic violence, and for too long LGBT people have faced discrimination when they sought help. More than 61 percent of LGBT survivors reported being turned away from domestic violence shelters, and 85 percent of service providers working with LGBT victims of violence have observed discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. With the passage of VAWA, we are hopeful that no survivor will ever again be further victimized by the system intended to help them recover.”

U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said, “This is a long delayed, hard won, and badly needed victory for millions of women, especially those who were told that they weren’t worthy of VAWA’s protections. It means that finally, after over 16 months of struggle, tribal women, the LGBT community, immigrants, and women on college campuses will have the tools and resources this life-saving bill provides.

“There is absolutely no reason that it should have taken this long for the House leadership to come around on a bill that had overwhelming bipartisan support. But passage today is a validation of what we’ve been saying since this bill expired in 2011 – VAWA has never been, and should never be, a partisan bill. That is why I applaud moderate Republican voices in the House who stood up to their leadership to demand a vote on the Senate bill.”

Murray added, “I want to especially thank Deborah Parker of the Tulalip Tribe in my home state. Deborah has been by my side time and again in this effort and repeatedly told her deeply personal story of the violence and abuse women face on tribal lands to illustrate a tremendous unmet need. Along with Deborah, I know that advocates across the country are breathing a sigh of relief today knowing that we finally got this done.”

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