Target: Speaker of the House John Boehner
Goal: Pass the Senate’s comprehensive Violence Against Women Act, not the House’s inadequate one
Recently, the House unveiled their version of the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAMA), and there are some troubling differences between it and the version the Senate passed 78-22 last week. Namely, the proposal by the House does not fully extend VAMA’s protections to LGBT, Native American and immigrant women. The House Republicans did not renew VAMA when it expired last year. This year’s version addressed one of House Republicans concerts from last year, amending the law so there will be no additional visas issued for battered immigrants. Despite this concession from Senate Democrats, the House Republicans are reluctant to extend VAMA’s protections to some of the groups that need it most. The House Republicans must realize this, compromise, and pass the Senate’s original proposal.
VAMA has been renewed by Congress through overwhelming and bipartisan support every year since 1994, until House Republicans let it expire in 2012. Unlike the bill passed by the Senate, the proposal by House Republicans excludes LGBT women from the largest grant programs, and does not require VAMA funds go to programs that help victims regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Nearly one in three lesbian women and half of bisexual women have experienced severe domestic violence in their lives according to the Department of Justice, and almost half of bisexual women have been raped in their lifetime.
In addition, both the Senate and the House bills give tribal courts authority to prosecute non-Native American men who abuse Native American women on reservations. However, the House bill adds a loophole that allows these men to seek a second opinion in a federal court should they feel that their constitutional rights have been violated. More than a third of Native American women have been raped according to the Department of Justice, and 86% of those women reported being raped by non-Native American men.
Data on sexual violence is not exact, and it is often the case that the numbers reported here are below the actual numbers. Regardless, it is clear that the groups that are most in need of protection aren’t getting it under the House’s proposed Violence Against Women Act. Demand that the House Republicans reconsider, and pass the original bill proposed by the Senate.
Dear Speaker John Boehner,
I am writing you this letter to urge you to reconsider the House’s proposed Violence Against Women Act in favor of the bill passed by the Senate. LGBT, Native American, and immigrant women—groups who need this bill more than most—are all being underserved by your scaled-back version of this legislation. In the name of the protection of all women, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or nationality, please pass the Senate’s original Violence Against Women’s Act.
By excluding LGBT women from the largest grant programs, as well as failing to ensure that VAMA’s funds go to programs that help victims regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, you are making it harder for these women to find protection under this law. Meanwhile, nearly one in three lesbian women, and half of bisexual women, are victims of domestic and sexual violence in their lifetimes according to the Department of Justice. The loophole that allows non-Native American men to seek another trial if they find their ruling in a tribal court unsatisfactory is also troubling. This is because more that a third of Native American women have been raped in their lifetimes, and 86% of those women reported being raped by a non-Native man.
The House’s proposed Violence Against Women Act falls short of the standards needed to protect all women under the law. Please reconsider, and work to pass the Senate’s original Violence Against Women Act.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: uncgspecial via Flickr