House Judiciary Committee Puts Politics before LGBT Domestic Violence Victims

by HRC Staff

Amendments to Recognize LGBT Victims of Domestic Violence Shot Down by House Judiciary Committee Republicans


Washington– The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – today responded to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee markup of a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill (H.R. 4970), where three amendments to make the bill inclusive of LGBT people failed on party line votes.

“The Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee have failed victims of domestic violence,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Republicans on the Committee ignored key priorities identified by nearly 2,000 service providers and victim advocates by moving forward with a bill that disregards many victims, including LGBT victims.”

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). 

“We thank Representatives Nadler, Quigley, and Polis for offering amendments that would provide protection and support for LGBT victims,” said Solmonese.  “Disturbingly, some House Republicans have allowed partisan politics to overshadow the needs of LGBT victims of domestic violence.”

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.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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