A number of amendments to the Violence Against Women Act were defeated by the Republican majority in the House Judiciary Committee May 10, and were not included in the final Republican-backed House version. The House approved the reauthorization of the legislation for the next five years.
VAWA was first approved in 1994 to provide funding for anti-domestic-violence efforts. This week’s reauthorization provides more than $650 million per year to agencies fighting domestic violence.
The Senate last month passed a version of the VAWA reauthorization that was LGBT-inclusive; the two bodies must now reconcile the different versions in conference committee.
During the House committee markup, three amendments were offered that would have created LGBT-specific regulations found in the Senate version.
Out Rep. Jared Polis (D-Col.) offered a provision that would disallow funding to any organization that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The measure currently includes nondiscrimination protections on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex and disability.
“All victims of domestic violence require our care, support and understanding,” Polis said in a statement. “On a bipartisan basis, we should be able to include these basic protections for LGBT Americans — as the Senate did — and ensure that the critical services supported by VAWA are available to all. No one should be denied any service based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Polis’ amendment was defeated 18-14.
The reauthorization bill establishes a new funding stream for organizations that work with “underserved populations,” and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) proposed an amendment that would include LGBTs as one of those groups.
“Field experts agree that current protections aren’t enough, and that we need to protect our LGBT community from violence,” Quigley said. “We have a responsibility to provide equal protection for all Americans, and my amendment [would] ensure that LGBT individuals receive the vital care they desperately need and absolutely deserve.”
Quigley’s measure was defeated 16-13.
A third LGBT amendment was offered by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).
Nadler sought to make LGBTs part of the STOP program — which provides directed funding to agencies that work with law enforcement to combat domestic violence — an amendment that was defeated 15-12.
Jen Colletta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.