July 01, 2012

VAWA supporters rally on Capitol Hill

Supporters, including the ABA, gathered on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol June 26 for the Save VAWA National Action Rally, urging Congress to pass legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that reflects the comprehensive language in the Senate-passed bill, S. 1925.

Proponents maintain that legislation must be passed to extend existing VAWA programs and add uniform nondiscrimination provisions that, for the first time, would ensure that victims seeking assistance cannot be denied services based on gender identity or sexual orientation as well as race, color, religion, national origin, sex or disability. Advocates also want the bill to strengthen tribal criminal jurisdiction over those committing domestic violence crimes.

After the Senate passed S. 1925 on April 27, and the House passed a narrower version, H.R. 4970, on May 16, efforts to reauthorize VAWA stalled. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who sponsored S. 1925 with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), emphasized to the crowd at the rally the importance of approving reauthorization quickly. “Saving the lives of victims of domestic violence must be above politics,” Leahy said. “Domestic and sexual violence knows no political party. Its victims are Republican and Democrat, rich and poor, young and old. Helping these victims, all these victims, should be our goal,” he said. Other rally speakers included: Vivian Huelgo, chief counsel for the ABA Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence; Reps. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) and Gwen Moore (D-Wis.); Lisalyn R. Jacobs, vice president for government relations at Legal Momentum; and singer Michael Bolton.

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