URGENT: Tell the House to Reject Flawed Version of Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

May 16, 2012

The United States House of Representatives will vote today, Wednesday, May 16, on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This landmark piece of legislation provides both local communities and women essential resources to help combat domestic abuse and sexual assault, and stalking.

Unfortunately, the House measure differs from the already approved Senate version of VAWA – which the Center for Inquiry supported – in several important ways.

For example, the Senate bill bars shelters from discriminating against domestic violence victims who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered; allows battered illegal immigrants easier access to visas; and helps Native American women who suffer domestic and sexual violence on their private lands. It also prohibits religious organizations from using VAWA funds to discriminate against a qualified job applicant based on his or her religious beliefs.

Yet the House bill either weakens or completely strips all of these significant protections.

The evidence is clear: VAWA has helped to prevent domestic and sexual violence, save lives, and hold offenders accountable. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the number of women killed by an intimate partner fell by roughly 34 percent between 1993 and 2008, while the number of nonfatal violent acts against women by intimate partners decreased by 53 percent. Furthermore, domestic violence remains a serious problem for women – 1 in 4 will experience it in her life – but also poses serious risks to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered persons, immigrants, and Native Americans. Indeed, the national domestic abuse hotline receives an astounding 23,000 calls per month.

No human being should be denied protections against domestic or sexual violence simply because of his or her gender, sexual orientation, or nationality. And taxpayer dollars should never be used to underwrite jobs in which religion is a factor in hiring decisions.

It’s time for the House to drop the current version of VAWA and work to pass the expanded Senate-approved version.

Contact your Representative today and tell him or her to vote down the flawed version of the Violence Against Women Act, and push for the House to take up the Senate’s expanded version.

Click here to take action.