House Republicans Exclude LGBT Victims from Violence Against Women Act

by HRC Staff

GOP lawmakers ignore Senate’s bipartisan lead


Washington– The Human Rights Campaign is condemning a highly partisan vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, where GOP lawmakers just passed a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  Unlike the bipartisan and LGBT-inclusive Senate version, the House bill fails to address discrimination faced by LGBT victims of domestic violence.  The bill passed 222-205, with 23 Republicans opposing it.

Reauthorizing VAWA need not have been a partisan fight.  Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) wanted to offer an amendment to the bill that would have increased protections for LGBT victims, but the House Republican leadership blocked her from even offering the amendment. 

“Today, House Republicans put partisan politics above the well-being of victims of domestic abuse,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “It is unfortunate – though not surprising – that some lawmakers refuse to acknowledge the basic dignity and respect LGBT domestic violence victims deserve. These lawmakers are leaving victims out in the cold with nowhere to turn for help, and attempting to further stigmatize many of the stereotypes associated with domestic abuse. We urge lawmakers to work together in conference so that VAWA is inclusive of all victims of domestic abuse.”

The Senate VAWA, which passed with a strong 68-31 bipartisan vote, reflected the needs expressed by more than 2,000 law enforcement, court, prosecution, legal services, and victim services professionals from across the country and was supported by both victim advocates and senators from both sides of the aisle. It addresses the fundamental problems LGBT domestic abuse victims face: they are often turned away from service providers, laughed at by law enforcement, and struggle to get protective orders from judges.  Unfortunately, this often leaves few options exception to return to their abuser.

The Senate bill specifically includes three important provisions that ensure LGBT victims of domestic violence are included in the bill.  The bill explicitly includes LGBT victims in two key VAWA grant programs.  It also prohibits any program or activity funded by the bill from discriminating against a victim based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  The House bill eliminates these provisions, as well as many other critical provisions in the Senate bill.

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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