House Passes LGBT-Inclusive Violence Against Women Act

On February 28th, the U.S. House passed the Senate-approved version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that includes important protections for LGBT people.  Last May the House passed their own non-LGBT inclusive version in a highly partisan vote but that bill died at the end of the last Congress.  Today’s victory marks a rare occasion when Republicans and Democrats came together to ensure explicit protections in the federal code for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”  It is also the first time that any federal non-discrimination provisions include the LGBT community.

“It’s tremendous that both Republican and Democratic leaders came together to ensure that all domestic violence victims, including those who are LGBT, will not face discrimination when they seek services,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “There need not be a partisan divide on LGBT issues and this vote shows that we can come together to find common sense solutions to issues facing our community.”

The bill was passed 78 to 22 in a bipartisan Senate vote and today’s 286 to 138 vote included 87 Republicans.

President Obama has pledged to sign the bill which prohibits any program or activity funded by the bill from discriminating against a victim based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  It also explicitly includes LGBT victims in two key VAWA grant programs.  HRC lobbied to include the language in the Senate bill and urged House members to pass the inclusive language as well.

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