Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act Bars Federally Funded Religious Discrimination
March 4, 2013
The Senate and House also disagreed over a "nondiscrimination clause," designed to bar groups that receive federal funds through VAWA from discriminating based on, among other things, religion. This clause read:
(13) CIVIL RIGHTS.—
(A) NONDISCRIMINATION.—No person in the United States shall, on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity (as defined in paragraph 249(c)(4) of title 18, United States 13 Code), sexual orientation, or disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity funded in whole or in part with funds made available under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (title IV of 19 Public Law 103–322; 108 Stat. 1902), the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 (division B of Public Law 106–386; 114 Stat. 1491), the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (title IX of Public Law 09–162; 119 Stat. 3080), the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, and any other program or activity funded in whole or in part with funds appropriated for grants, cooperative agreements, and other assistance administered by the Office on Violence Against Women.
Again, the Senate version of the bill included this provision; the House version did not. So you can probably imagine that groups which support separation of church and state were worried in regards to how the final VAWA reauthorization bill would look.
As such, when the House scheduled a final vote last week, 60 religious, education, civil rights, and women's rights groups -- including the Center for Inquiry -- urged House members to reject any amendments that would weaken or remove the nondiscrimination language.
Fortunately, when the vote came down, the House approved the full Senate version of the bill. Which, as I said, meant a victory on several fronts: the fight against domestic violence, the fight for LGBT equality*, and the fight to protect separation of church and state.