UPDATE: House Passes a VAWA that Does Not Protect All Victims
Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to pass a version of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization that prioritizes some victims over others and politicizes the safety and well-being of victims of abuse.
I could not have predicted that a bill called the Violence Against Women Act would actually put victims of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence at risk. But that is exactly what the House version of VAWA has done.
The House version (H.R. 4970) expressly rejects protections for men and women who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender and eliminates strong protections for women and children who are beaten or abused on Tribal lands by perpetrators who are not members of a particular tribe. It also removes a key requirement from the Senate version that would more easily allow victims to move from one subsidized housing program to another in order to avoid an abuser and drops an important provision that would tackle the violence that occurs on our nation’s college campuses. And these are just a few examples of the ways in which H.R. 4970 put victims of domestic abuse at further risk.
In an email to her supporters late last night, Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) spoke clearly: “The truth is any bill that discriminates against women because of their ethnic background or sexual orientation is not worthy of being called the Violence Against Women Act.” Rep. Moore has acted as a spokeswoman for the provisions necessary in a real VAWA, bravely admitting on the floor of Congress her own experiences as a survivor of sexual abuse.
Now that the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed such drastically different versions of VAWA’s reauthorization, House and Senate leadership will likely appoint Members of Congress to hash out the final version in a conference committee.
Stay tuned for ways to urge those appointed to this committee to stop playing politics with the lives of victims of abuse and to implement a VAWA that makes serious improvements.