House Republicans give in on VAWA
 

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posted Friday, March 1, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 9

House Republicans give in on VAWA
LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act passes

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) on February 28. The final version of the bill passed by the House includes protections for Lesbians and Trans women in same-sex relationships, as well as additional protection for Native women assaulted on reservations.

Both provisions had been opposed by Republican House leaders, who held up approval of VAWA for more than 500 days after the original law expired in 2011.

Speaker John Boehner first brought up a Republican-sponsored version for debate, but it was voted down 166-257. The House then voted 286-138 to pass the Senate version, with 87 Republicans joining all 199 Democrats to provide majority support.

PERKINS DENOUNCED BILL
When the bill passed in the Senate two weeks ago, leading anti-Gay spokesman Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council denounced it as a 'feminist slush fund that extends special rights to people based on their sexual behavior.'

The bill now goes to President Obama, who has promised to sign it into law.

VAWA provides federal assistance to health care providers and law enforcement agencies that prosecute domestic violence. The law was first passed in 1994, with then-Sen. Joe Biden as the prime sponsor, but because it involves federal funding it needs to be reauthorized periodically.

Washington's Sen. Patty Murray was one of the leaders in the effort to reauthorize the Act and a severe critic of House Republicans who prevented an up-or-down vote on the measure for a year and a half.

'This is a long delayed, hard won, and badly needed victory for millions of women, especially those who were told that they weren't worthy of VAWA's protections,' Murray said in a statement issued shortly after the bill finally passed.

'It means that finally, after over 16 months of struggle, tribal women, the LGBT community, immigrants, and women on college campuses will have the tools and resources this life-saving bill provides.'

MURRAY THANKS REPUBLICANS
In her statement, Murray thanked 'moderate Republican voices in the House who stood up to their leadership to demand a vote on the Senate bill.'

She also acknowledged the 'countless women [who] had the courage to come forward and tell painful stories about why this bill was so vital to them.

'By stepping out of the shadows, they reinforced that they were more than statistics, and they forced those who stood in opposition to this bill to face up to the reality that who a person loves, where they live, or their immigration status should never determine whether they are protected from violence,' Murray said.

Murray singled out Tulalip Tribe Vice Chair Deborah Parker for special thanks.

'Deborah has been by my side time and again in this effort and repeatedly told her deeply personal story of the violence and abuse women face on tribal lands to illustrate a tremendous unmet need,' the senator said.



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