HRC Blog

Senate Passes Violence Against Women Act in Bipartisan Vote

Post submitted by Dan Rafter, Former HRC Associate Director of Communications

The U.S. Senate just passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in a bi-partisan 68-31 vote, after defeating an amendment that would have re-written the bill and excluded protections for LGBT victims by a vote of 36-63.

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.

The VAWA reauthorization bill passed by the Senate strengthens essential services for LGBT victims of domestic violence in three key ways. First, the bill ensures that all programs or activities receiving funding from VAWA provide services regardless of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Second, it explicitly includes the LGBT community in the largest VAWA grant program, the “STOP Grant Program,” which provides funding to care providers who collaborate with prosecution and law enforcement officials to address domestic violence. Finally, the bill establishes a grant program specifically aimed at providing services and outreach to underserved populations, including those who face obstacles to care based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The version of VAWA passed by the Senate is a comprehensive, cost-effective strategy for combatting domestic violence that was drafted based on input from more than 2,000 law enforcement, court, prosecution, legal services, and victim services professionals from across the country.  

The House has not yet acted on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, but could move on it as early as next month.

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