President Barack Obama on Thursday signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in what LGBT groups have praised as the first federal bill to contain LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination provisions.
“This legislation includes LGBT people in truly historic, unprecedented ways,” said New York’s Anti-Violence Project (AVP) Sharon Stapel in a statement.
“For the first time in history, federal law includes LGBT anti-discrimination provisions, a huge victory for the LGBT communities and a great step forward for LGBT inclusion in our nation’s laws. By including LGBT people in VAWA, we can say to all survivors of violence: you matter and there is support for you.”
The House of Representatives passed a week ago Thursday the approved version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which has been praised by LGBT groups as being inclusive to their needs.
The bipartisan vote passed 286 to 138 and included 87 Republicans.
“Today’s victory marks a rare occasion when Republicans and Democrats came together to ensure explicit protections in the federal code for ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity.’ It is also the first time that any federal non-discrimination provisions include the LGBT community,” wrote leading LGBT organization Human Rights Campaign in a statement following the vote.
The bill, co-sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy and other Democrats, and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), had already passed the Senate with a 78-22 vote. Many are praising legislators for their robust show of bipartisan action, including President Obama.
“This important step shows what we can do when we come together across party lines to take up a just cause,” Obama said.
“The bill passed by the Senate will help reduce homicides that occur from domestic violence, improve the criminal justice response to rape and sexual assault, address the high rates of dating violence experienced by young women, and provide justice to the most vulnerable among us.”
VAWA provides state and local authorities with grants that effectively serve millions of women across the United States. Now LGBT individuals could be included in the bill’s success thanks to three key provision revisions.
Alli McCracken, National Organizer at Codepink in Washington, told 429Magazine after the Senate vote that “you can’t have an actor that denounces violence against women without including all women. That includes women who are a part of the LGBTQ community, with a particular emphasis on the Q.”
“Republicans are against [the VAWA]because of the provisions for Native Americans and LGBT people. It’s shocking how blatant representatives are against minorities,” McCracken said.