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Violence Against Women Act must include LGBT people

November 28, 2011

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), enacted in 1994, supports comprehensive, effective and cost saving responses to all types of violence against women. VAWA is administered by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services and gives law enforcement, prosecutors and judges the tools they need to hold offenders accountable and keep communities safe while supporting survivors of violence.

VAWA is up for re-authorization. With your help, this year’s bill will, for the first time, explicitly include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people.

We need this bill because:

  • LGBT people experience domestic violence in 25-35% of relationships, which is the same rate as the general population.
  • LGBT victims face discrimination when accessing services, including being turned away from shelter, mis-arrested as the primary aggressor by local law enforcement, and denied orders of protection.
  • In a 2010 study, 96% of victim services and law enforcement agencies said that they did not have specific services for LGBT victims. In fact, studies have shown that only one in five survivors of same-gender sexual assault and intimate partner violence received victim services.

For all of these reasons, LGBT people need to be included in the re-authorized VAWA.

Don’t know who your Senators are or how to contact them? Visit: www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

VAWA will be introduced on Wednesday, Nov. 30, by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), 202.224.4242, and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), 202.224.6142. Please let both senators know that you appreciate their leadership in introducing VAWA and their commitment to including LGBT people.

Call these key senators and ask them to co-sponsor Sen. Leahy’s VAWA reauthorization legislation that explicitly protects LGBT people: Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), 202.224.3324; Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) 202.224.5251; Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), 202.224.6665; Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) 202.224.3744.

When you call the D.C. office: remind your senator (or their staff) how the cost-saving Violence Against Women Act helps save the lives of people in your state and local community.

Say:

  • I am a constituent and I am asking you to become an original co-sponsor of the Leahy/Crapo VAWA bill and to ensure that the proposed language addressing sexual orientation and gender identity stay in the bill.
  • VAWA programs are critical in our state and should include all victims of violence. LGBT people experience violence at the same rates as everyone else and must be protected under VAWA.
  • Without specific inclusion, LGBT survivors lack access to critical and life-sustaining resources. All survivors deserve protection!
  • Domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking are pervasive societal problems and the federal government is an essential partner to states and local communities who are working on solving these problems. Let’s get bipartisan VAWA legislation passed together!

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