Earlier this month, the Violence Against Women Act was passed by the Senate, 78 to 22. According to a HuffPo report, the bill had 62 cosponsors, and actually picked up “additional support from a handful of Republicans.”
So, the next move was in the House, and yesterday, February 22, the House Republicans once again revealed their, what, disdain for women? Or at least for women of certain groups. Whatever it is, they removed protections for women who are lesbian, bisexual and transgender, and to a lesser but still significant extent, for Native American women.
At the end of 2012, VAWA expired because House Republicans wouldn’t accept protections in the Senate bill for LGBT, Native American, and undocumented victims.
And here we go again. Jennifer Bendery, at HuffPo:
The GOP proposal was posted on the House Rules Committee website with little fanfare, along with an announcement that the committee will begin moving the bill forward in a Tuesday hearing. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) will sponsor the bill … .
The … bill entirely leaves out provisions aimed at helping LGBT victims of domestic violence. Specifically, the bill removes “˜sexual orientation’ and “˜gender identity’ from the list of underserved populations who face barriers to accessing victim services, thereby disqualifying LGBT victims from a related grant program. The bill also eliminates a requirement in the Senate bill that programs that receive funding under VAWA provide services regardless of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Finally, the bill excludes the LGBT community from the STOP program, the largest VAWA grant program, which gives funds to care providers who work with law enforcement officials to address domestic violence.
Another difference from the Senate bill is in how Native Americans are treated.
Under the Senate bill, tribal courts would gain new authority to prosecute non-Native American men who abuse Native American women on reservations. The House bill also grants that new authority … but adds a caveat that would allow those people to move their case to a federal court if they feel their constitutional rights aren’t being upheld.
Someone identified as a “House GOP leadership aide” said that LGBT victims are, in fact, protected. Bendery has the quote:
“˜The House bill protects all people from discrimination. … The Senate bill continues to add people to an enumerated list, therefore excluding those categories not on the list and requiring constant updating. The House bill also allows states, through which VAWA grants flow, to determine the best recipients of those funds, based on the victim populations in their areas.’
And given that in most states sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected “populations,” I wonder how this would work out?
Aviva Shen, at Think Progress has this response to the House GOP bill: (emphasis added)
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a chief advocate for VAWA in the Senate, blasted the House bill as a “˜non-starter’ and called for moderate Republicans to take action: “˜It’s not a compromise, it’s an unfortunate effort to exclude specific groups of women from receiving basic protections under the law”¦ The protections included in the Senate for new communities of women are not bargaining chips that can be played with in order to appease the far right in their party. These are badly needed new tools to give women an escape from a life stunted by abuse”¦It’s time for moderate Republicans in the House to step up and finally force their leadership to stop ignoring the calls of women across the country.
Well said, Sen. Murray.
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