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Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing

Today President Obama signed the bipartisan supported Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law, in effect ensuring explicit protections for LGBT victims of domestic violence.

VAWA prohibits any program or activity funded by the bill from discriminating against a victim based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  It also explicitly includes LGBT victims in two key VAWA grant programs.

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.

Today marks the first time a federal non-discrimination law has included the LGBT community. HRC lobbied for the inclusive language in both the U.S House and the Senate.

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