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FINALLY! The Violence Against Women Act has passed!

And we DID get it done!

And we DID get it done!

So, there have been a number of posts here on Prevention, Power & Peace about the importance of the Violence Against Women act and the shenanigans that have endangered it and hung it up in partisan politics for 500 days of bickering and stalling.  I’m glad to report that this morning, it passed through the House and is finally reauthorized with a vote of 286 to 138.  Even better, the alternate Republican version of the act, which struck out protections for LGBT, for immigrant women, and for Native American women, got consigned to the circular file of history.

Just for a bit of perspective, one reason that the Native American women portion is so important is this (taken from a Washington Post article):

Before the end of the last Congress, negotiations stalled over the Native American provision. That is, giving tribal courts limited authority to prosecute non-Native Americans accused of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes against Native American women on Indian reservations. As I wrote last December, under the old VAWA, a non-Native American man who beats up, sexually assaults or even kills a Native American woman on tribal land would basically get away with it because tribal courts do not have jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indian defendants. In addition, federal and state law enforcement have limited resources to pursue cases and might be hours away from a reservation.

The reauthorized and expanded VAWA also extends protections to other groups that are among the most vulnerable such as human trafficking victims.  It will help reduce violence on college campuses, and help rape victims by making sure that their rape kits are processed–there is currently a tremendous backlog on processing, leaving many victims of sexual assault in a limbo where evidence that could be used to bring their attacker to justice languishes without being analyzed.  Every year since VAWA began in 1994, it has passed without fuss and with expanded protections… until this latest time.

In America, we have long stood by the principle that the protections of the law are not meant just for some. The law should be there to keep all people safe. That is why VAWA’s expansions to protect vulnerable populations such as Native American victims, LGBT victims, and immigrant victims are so terribly, integrally important.

Today is a good day–a day of hope for those victimized by sexual assault and domestic violence.  Today is a day that America finally FINALLY said, “We support you.  We hear you.  We believe you.  You have worth in our eyes.  Your pain is real.  You deserve justice.”

FINALLY.

VAWA Vote Delayed – What Can I Do?

On Thursday, February 7th, the reauthorization vote on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) S. 47, a bi-partisan bill, was delayed in the Senate. A vote is expected early next week – probably late Monday, February 11th.

The Violence Against Women Act is vital federal legislation that provides funding and protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence. VAWA was first authorized in 1994, but was not reauthorized in 2012 because some republicans opposed the bill’s protections for LGBTQ and Native American victims and immigrant victims of domestic violence seeking Visas.

Yesterday, the Senate did reject a Republican alternative to S. 47. The alternative bill would have stripped protections for LGBTQ victims of domestic violence, removed a provision for Native American women, and shifted the focus of VAWA way from women and toward men.

What Can I Do?

We urge you to call your Senators on Monday, February 11th, and ask them to vote for S.47, a strong bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and vote NO on any further amendments that weaken VAWA’s protections.

You can call the Capitol switchboard at (202)224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senators.

Please thank the Senators already co-sponsoring S. 47:

Senators Ayotte, Kelly (R-NH), Baldwin, Tammy (D–WI), Baucus, Max (D-MT) , Begich, Mark (D-AK), Bennet, Michael (D-CO), Blumenthal, Richard (D-CT), Boxer, Barbara (D-CA), Brown, Sherrod (D-OH), Cantwell, Maria (D-WA), Cardin, Benjamin (D-MD), Carper, Thomas (D-DE) Casey, Robert (D–PA), Collins, Susan (R-ME), Coons, Chris (D-DE), Cowan, Mo (D- MA), Crapo, Mike (R-ID), Donnelly, Joe (D-IN) Durbin, Richard (D-IL), Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA), Franken, Al (D-MN), Gillibrand, Kirsten (D-NY), Hagan, Kay (D-NC), Harkin, Tom (D-IA), Heinrich, Martin (D-NM), Heitkamp, Heidi (D–ND), Heller, Dean (R-NV), Hirono, Mazie (D-HI), Johnson, Tim (D – SD), Kaine, Tim (D-VA) King, Angus (I-ME), Kirk, Mark (R-IL), Klobuchar, Amy (D-MN), Landrieu, Mary (D-LA), Lautenberg, Frank R. (D-NJ) Leahy, Patrick (D-VT), Levin, Carl (D-MI) McCaskill, Claire (D-MO), Manchin, Joe (D-WV) ,Menendez, Robert (D-NJ), Merkley, Jeff (D-OR), Mikulski, Barbara (D-MD), Moran, Jerry (R-KS), Murkowski, Lisa (R-AK), Murphy, Christopher (D-CT) Murray, Patty (D-WA), Nelson, Bill (D-FL) Pryor, Mark (D-AR), Reed, Jack (D-RI), Reid, Harry (D-NV), Rockefeller, John D (D-WV), Sanders, Bernard (I-VT), Schatz, Brian (D-HI) Schumer, Charles (D-NY), Shaheen, Jeanne (D-NH), Stabenow, Debbie (D-MI), Tester, Jon (D-MT), Udall, Mark (D-CO), Udall, Tom (D-NM), Warner, Mark (D-VA), Warren, Elizabeth (D-MA), Whitehouse, Sheldon (D-RI), Wyden, Ron (D-OR).

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