House GOP Pushes Own Version of VAWA

Although the Senate has already passed a bipartisan version of the Violence Against Women Act, House Republicans are planning to “strip its contents and put their language into that bill,” language that excludes protections for LGBT victims.

On Friday House Republican leaders introduced their own version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill with very little fanfare. The Senate passed a bipartisan version of the VAWA last week, but this new version from House GOP members has several striking differences to the bill. As the Huffington Post points out, the new version of the bill being presented by the Republican party omits protections for the LGBT community, and has modified “language targeting Native American victims of domestic abuse.” The House Rules Committee website announced that they will “begin moving the bill forward in a Tuesday hearing,” and an aid to the House Republican leadership confirmed the bill is expected to be brought to a “full vote” later in the week. Several of the obvious differences are,

The House GOP 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 notable difference in the House bill relates to a provision targeting Native American victims. 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 — a major change from the bill House Republicans put forward in the last Congress — 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.

The House GOP argues that their new version of the VAWA does in fact protect LGBT victims. An aide said, “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.” But several national domestic violence groups have already weighed in on the new version and one of those, the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women has already released a statement in opposition to the bill. They said, “Unfortunately, the National Task Force must oppose the House proposed VAWA legislation filed today. This legislation lacks necessary protections for victims of violence and rolls back current law. NTF supports efforts to move the House legislation closer to the inclusive, bipartisan Senate-passed bill.”

Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, has gone even further in her criticism of the House GOP version of the bill, trashing it completely. She said in a statement released on Friday, “House Republicans just can’t help themselves. Even with a strong, bipartisan bill passed by the Senate for the second Congress in a row, even with countless women in need of support and protection, Republicans are still turning the Violence Against Women Act into a partisan political football.”

Read the full 288-page bill and a section-by-section analysis here.

Photo: sara biljana/Flickr

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About Kathryn DeHoyos

Kathryn DeHoyos currently resides on the outskirts of Austin, TX. She has 2 beautiful children, and is very happily un-married to her life partner DJ.

Comments

  1. John Anderson says:

    “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.”

    From the Huffington Post

    “In addition to stripping out the tribal jurisdiction provision, Grassley’s legislation differs in several key ways from Leahy’s bill. It would remove the word “women” from VAWA’s largest grant program, effectively broadening the scope of the original 1994 law to include male victims of violence, ”

    Not sure how to highlight this section so I’m just going to re-quote it separately.

    “broadening the scope of the original 1994 law to include male victims of violence”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/07/vawa-vote_n_2639168.html

    “The House GOP argues that their new version of the VAWA does in fact protect LGBT victims. An aide said, “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”

    Maybe they have a point.

  2. “In addition to stripping out the tribal jurisdiction provision, Grassley’s legislation differs in several key ways from Leahy’s bill. It would remove the word “women” from VAWA’s largest grant program, effectively broadening the scope of the original 1994 law to include male victims of violence, ”

    It’s about time something like this is addressed in congress.

    ‘Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, has gone even further in her criticism of the House GOP version of the bill, trashing it completely. She said in a statement released on Friday, “House Republicans just can’t help themselves. Even with a strong, bipartisan bill passed by the Senate for the second Congress in a row, even with countless women in need of support and protection, Republicans are still turning the Violence Against Women Act into a partisan political football.”’

    I’ve got news for Nancy Pelosi and many of her ilk:

    Get with the times. Seriously. Women aren’t the only victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

    You also forget there are also countless men in need of support and protection that, for decades, hasn’t been recognized by the likes of you.

    Also I have to laugh at her “Partisian Political Football” claim when her, and other women’s rights groups, have been doing the same thing with their Duluth Model of addressing domestic violence that has lead to many male victims slipping through the cracks.

  3. Forgive my ignorance but why are LGBT denied? Is it the providers deny it and we need a law to make that illegal? I was under the assumption the last version of VAWA covered everyone, male, female, children, adult?

    • John Anderson says:

      According to what is quoted it seems that you’re partly right.

      “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.”

      Part of it is the problem the Republicans were trying to address in their version of VAWA in the senate, which is that VAWA was drafted to specifically help women (not men) to exclude men from grant programs they made them restrictive. If you’re not part of the group, you get no money.

      “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 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.”

      The STOP program seems to be the program Grassley was trying to get to include men. It’s troubling that the program that specifically helps care providers who WORK WITH POLICE to deal with issues of domestic violence, explicitly leaves out male victims. It just seems like a lot of effort to exclude straight men from receiving assistance and protect female abusers.

      “I was under the assumption the last version of VAWA covered everyone, male, female, children, adult?”

      Based on what I’ve read, if the senate version passes, it still won’t.

  4. I find it amazing …. Because VAWA may affect gays and lesbians, all are up in arms yet VAWA discriminated against men for countless years and where were all these “do gooders?” NOWHERE to be found. Where was Nancy when countless requests to de-genderize the VAWA language was presented. I see …. The GOP says something (right or wrong) and all are up in arms.

    A vast majority (over 95%) of the shelters funded by VAWA exclude men specifically, and this is expressly permitted under VAWA….. Many of these shelters even exclude teen boys. Oh yeah, VAWA is one heck of a program!

  5. Simply put … Violence Against WOMEN Act. Can someone provide a link to where I can read the language of the ACT that was passed?

  6. So from the way it looks The House GOP version would have actually protected not just LGBT victims but ALL victims by trying to strip out anything that would have allowed for exclusion of any victims based on a characteristic like sexual orientation and gender identity. If that is the case then I think people are getting up in arms about it because it doesn’t explicitly name individual groups that it helps. Which seems odd.

    When people point out how the VAWA excluded male victims the common response is that it does not (even in the face of evidence showing it did/does). My question is where in the currently language of the VAWA is there language that excluded GLBT and Native American women (not Native Americans mind you, Native American women)

    I would think that instead of just added groups here and there wouldn’t it be better to just make sure it includes ALL victims from the get go so that there is no chance that anyone gets left out?

    So in closing, is there really something wrong with the GOP version that doesn’t pay a specific nod to certain groups but still seems to cover all people, or is this just another “GOP is bad and hates people!” mud slinging?

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