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Violence Against Women Act Stalls – NOW "Condemns" House Version

May 31, 2012

PHOENIX, Ariz. - The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been renewed twice with bipartisan support since it originally passed in 1994, but this year's reauthorization has become the object of a political battle. The Senate passed a version of the bill (S.1925) that includes immigrants, Native Americans and LBGT victims of domestic abuse, with Arizona Sens. John McCain voting yes and Jon Kyl voting no. The House passed a version (H.R.4970) that excluded those protections.

The National Organization for Women is among those opposed to the House version. NOW President Mary Pollack says that's because the House bill excludes many domestic abuse victims who historically have fallen through the cracks.

"Immigrant women are especially vulnerable, because some of them are victims of domestic violence and are very afraid of calling the police or calling for help."

Leaders of more than 30 religious groups are also opposed to the House bill because they say it rolls back current protections for "battered non-citizens." House Republican leaders say their bill protects all victims and contend there is no reason for the bill to single out certain groups.

Proponents of the Senate bill cite studies that show the rate of domestic abuse among lesbian, gay and transgender people to be about the same as in the general population, yet that abuse is reported less. Pollock accuses House Republicans of being afraid to face reality.

"They cannot vote on anything that recognizes that there may be more discrimination against that group than other groups. It is the civil rights topic of our time."

Pollock calls the House bill anti-gay, anti-woman and anti-immigrant. House Republicans accuse Senate Democrats of playing politics with the issue, but NOW points to serious policy differences between the bills, warning that the House version changes and weakens many VAWA initiatives and preventive provisions.

The Violence Against Women Act expires in September. Both sides say they support reauthorization, but no official negotiations have been scheduled to work out a compromise. President Obama has threatened to veto the House version.

The complete NOW statement is available at

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ