- January 23, 2013
Yesterday, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) re-introduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The reauthorization bill, which was introduced in the Senate in a similar form last Congress, acknowledges and addresses the discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) victims of domestic violence.
The bill strengthens essential services for LGBT victims of domestic violence in three key ways. First, it 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 bill passed the Senate last year in a bi-partisan 68-31 vote. However, in a highly partisan vote, the House of Representatives passed a reauthorization bill that failed to address discrimination faced by LGBT victims of domestic violence, as well as other vulnerable communities. The bill stalled after the chambers were unable to negotiate a compromise that ensured all victims of domestic violence had access to the protections they deserve.
Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) introduced identical legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
We commend Sens. Leahy and Crapo and Reps. Moore, Pelosi and Conyers for introducing a VAWA reauthorization bill that ensures all victims of domestic violence have access to the critical and often life-sustaining services they need.