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Senate passes LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act
From news releases

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force applauds the U.S. Senate's passage today of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill, which includes explicit protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) survivors of domestic violence and enhanced protections for Native American and immigrant survivors. It also includes a new provision that would support prosecution of sexual assault cases by reducing evidentiary (rape kits) backlogs.

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.

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

"To be the target of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking is terrifying and traumatic. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are not immune from this violence and should not also fear being turned away from life-saving services because of who they are. Reauthorization of this inclusive Violence Against Women Act will go a long way toward ensuring everyone has access to the critical resources they need. We thank the Senate for passing this bill and urge the House to swiftly follow suit."

Statement from the President on the Senate Passage of the Violence Against Women Act:

Today the Senate passed a strong bipartisan bill to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act. This important step shows what we can do when we come together across party lines to take up a just cause. 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. I want to thank Senator Leahy and his colleagues from both sides of the aisle for the leadership they have shown on behalf of victims of abuse. It's now time for the House to follow suit and send this bill to my desk so that I can sign it into law.

National Center for Transgender Equality Statement

Washington, D.C. - Today, by a vote of 78 to 22, the United States Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act, an inclusive landmark bill that would reauthorize funding of programs for survivors of violence and provide needed improvements to the law, including LGBT-inclusive protections.

In response to this development,National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling issued the following statement:

"Today's Senate passage of VAWA is the first step to ensuring that every person in need, including LGBT people, immigrants, and Native Americans, have access to programs that serve survivors of violence. Now we need swift action from the House to pass this bi-partisan bill that protects all survivors of violence.

While the reauthorization languished in Congress for longer than a year, critical programs have seen their funding jeopardized, and some LGBT people have faced discrimination in accessing programs. While NCTE applauds the Senate for taking this important step, survivors of violence cannot wait any longer, including the almost 20 percent of transgender people who've reported facing domestic abuse.

We urge the leadership of the House of Representatives to stop their partisanship and make these programs more accessible. NCTE will continue to work with individuals and advocates to support the reauthorization of VAWA, and calls on the House to pass a strong, bi-partisan bill that protects all survivors of violence."

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs statement

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) commends the U.S. Senate for passage of Senate Bill S.47 which re-authorizes a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) by a vote of 78 to 22. S. 47 includes explicit sexual orientation and gender identity protections. We thank the bill's sponsors, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID), for their leadership in introducing the bill and shepherding its passage. This historic legislative action for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities comes as a direct result of tireless efforts on the part of NCAVP members and our national partners, including the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force among others.

"Since its passage in 1994, VAWA has been our nation's response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking but LGBTQ survivors of violence have not been explicitly included in the law," said Sharon Stapel, Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project. "Today's Senate vote is the first step in making sure every survivor of violence in this country has the protections and support they need if they are in an unsafe relationship."

Intimate partner violence is a pervasive problem in LGBTQH and non-LGBTQH communities. This month, the Centers for Disease Control released the first ever national prevalence study on intimate partner and sexual violence and sexual orientation that showed that lesbian, gay and bisexual people experience sexual and domestic violence at the same or higher rates as heterosexual people. NCAVP's most recent report on IPV in LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities, issued in October 2012 by NCAVP, documented 19 IPV homicides, the highest yearly total ever recorded by the coalition and more than three times the 6 documented homicides in 2010. Of the 19 homicide victims, a majority (63.2%) of IPV homicide victims were men, indicating that gay men were disproportionately victims of homicide in 2011.

"An LGBTQ-inclusive VAWA is essential to ensuring that LGBTQ survivors have access to life saving services, continued advocacy and support," said Terra Slavin, Lead Staff Attorney, LA Gay & Lesbian Center. " While the passage of the Senate bill is cause for celebration, we need the support of the House of Representatives to make sure all victims of violence are protected."

To learn more about our national advocacy or to locate an anti-violence program in your area, please contact us at or visit

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