In historic vote, LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act is passed

The Task Force applauds the U.S. House’s passage today of an inclusive Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill. The measure, passed earlier this month by the Senate in a bipartisan 78-22 vote, includes explicit protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) survivors of domestic violence, enhanced protections for Native American and immigrant survivors, and campus safety provisions.

vawa_historic_403x403The House today rejected its own version of the bill that removed the inclusive provisions, opting instead to pass the Senate version. The 1994 federal law provides funds to enhance investigation and prosecution of violent crimes such as domestic violence and sexual assault, and it bolsters victim services programs.

The Task Force Action Fund along with a broad coalition of organizations has been lobbying for inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the law. Many of our members made calls, sent emails and faxes to tell their stories and ask their elected officials to do the right thing.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

This is a huge victory for the millions of people across the country affected by domestic and sexual violence, including LGBT people. To be the target of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking — whether perpetrated by a stranger or an intimate partner — is terrifying and traumatic. A survivor’s distress should not be compounded by a lack of proper response from service providers or law enforcement. Imagine being assaulted, scared and in pain — and then also being turned away from the care you need simply because of who you are or who you love. This legislation will better ensure that does not happen. We thank Congress and look forward to President Obama’s signature on this critically important bill. This law will literally help save lives.