HRC Blog

House Judiciary Committee Places Politics Before LGBT Domestic Violence Victims

US Capitol; LGBT equalityThe Republican-led Judiciary Committee just rejected LGBT-inclusive amendments to their version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill (H.R. 4970). The amendments failed along party line votes.

At the committee markup, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) offered an amendment to make the largest grant program in VAWA, the STOP Grant Program, explicitly LGBT inclusive.  Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) offered an amendment to include the LGBT community in an underserved communities grant program.  Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) offered an amendment to prevent service providers from discriminating against victims based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  The VAWA reauthorization bill being considered was introduced by Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL) and supported by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). 

HRC sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee Chairman and Ranking Member yesterday opposing H.R. 4970. The Senate passed a bi-partisan, LGBT inclusive VAWA bill (S. 1925) on April 26, 2012 by a 68-31 vote.

Studies indicate that LGBT people experience domestic violence at roughly the same rate as the general population.  Unfortunately, many LGBT victims have not been receiving the services they need because service providers and law enforcement are not engaged in outreach to the LGBT community, lack the cultural competency to effectively work with LGBT victims, or do not have access to funding for appropriate services.

In a recent United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, which surveyed 999 adults from May 3-6, 62 percent percent of respondents supported “including gays and lesbians in the group that is protected under this law,” compared with only 30 percent who are opposed to that addition.  Among women, 67 percent support expanding the law to cover gays and lesbians, as do 77 percent of respondents ages 18-29 and 69 percent of those 18-49.  The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points.

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