Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tell your Congressperson: We need a VAWA that includes input and recommendations from ADVOCATES IN THE FIELD!

From Pat Reuss of The National Organization for Women (NOW):

Please forward widely
May 29, 2012

Tell your Congressperson - get the Real VAWA to the President!
S. 1925 is the bill that health, law enforcement and service professionals – along with thousands of advocates in every state and community - contributed to and support.

Thank you to all of you who we know are working every day to get the real VAWA enacted!   Your work is paying off! 

Congress needs to keep hearing about VAWA!  NTF supports the enactment of S. 1925, the REAL VAWA.  The Senate bill includes your recommendations and the recommendations of thousands of victim services experts across the country and improves protections for victims.  The House bill includes dangerous provisions which fundamentally alter and weaken key tenets of VAWA and does not address the most urgent needs of victims.  It fundamentally changes the purpose of VAWA. Both bills will be brought to conference so that both the House and Senate leaders can agree on a bill to send to the President – we need to tell our legislators that they need to reject the exclusionary and harmful House bill and send S. 1925 to the President because it protects ALL victims.

ACTION 1:  There are significant differences in the Senate and House bill – and the NTF supports the Senate bill because it supports ALL survivors AND does not roll back existing protections in the law.  Please take action to urge your legislators to send S. 1925 to the President.
ACTION 2:  Your letters to the editor helped tremendously!  Keep them coming – send a letter to the editor today!

ACTION 1:  PLEASE CONTACT – BY PHONE, EMAIL, AT A TOWN HALL MEETING OR VISIT IN-PERSON AT THE DC OR DISTRICT OFFICE - YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES.  (Use these links to find contact information for your Representative and Senators). Tell them:
I/we urge you to encourage your party's leaders to move swiftly to a conference or agreement on VAWA and send the President S. 1925, which is a strong, bipartisan Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill that protects all vulnerable victims. S. 1925 includes the input and recommendations of – and support of - thousands of advocates across the country and protects ALL victims.  H.R. 4970 ROLLS BACK protections for victims, it EXCLUDES victims of violence and it REJECTS AND IGNORES input of thousands of experienced victim service advocates. There is still time for you to support a VAWA that protects ALL victims. I strongly urge Congress to quickly move past politics and send S. 1925 to the President so that victims everywhere are protected.

In particular we need to reach the legislators who believed they were  voting for VAWA but made the wrong decision in the House and urge them to stand up for the real VAWA and pledge their support for a final bill that encompasses all the protections, programs and services found in the Senate bill.  Please reach out especially to the following Representatives who voted for H.R. 4970,  the WRONG VAWA in the House, and tell them they have the chance to support the real VAWA and stand up for ALL victims. 

Barrow, John (D- Georgia 12th), 202 225 2823
Berkley, Shelley (D – Nevada 1st), 225 5965 
Boren, Dan (D – Oklahoma 2nd), 202 225-2701
Matheson, Jim (D – Utah 2nd), 202 225 3011
McIntyre, Mike (D – North Carolina 7th), 202 225 2731
Peterson, Collin (D – Minnesota 7th), 202 225 2165

We also need to thank those who stood with us and voted AGAINST H.R. 4970.  Please let these legislators know that you appreciate their support for ALL victims and their courage in voting against the bad House bill and ask for their continued support for the real VAWA found in the Senate bill:

Amash, Justin (R– Michigan 3rd), 202 225 3831
Bartlett, Roscoe (R – Maryland 6th), 202 225 2721
Bass, Charles (R – New Hampshire 2nd), 202 225 5206
Berg, Rick (R – North Dakota at-large), 202 225 2611
Biggert, Judy (R – Illinois 13th), 202 225 3515  
Davis, Geoff (R – Kentucky 4th), 202 225 3465
Diaz-Balart, Mario (R – Florida 21st), 202 225 4211
Dold, Robert (R  – Illinois 10th), 202 225 4835
Garrett, Scott (R – New Jersey 5th), 202 225 4465
Gosar, Paul (R – Arizona 1st), 202 225 2315
Hanna, Richard (R – New York 24th) 202 225 3665
Huelskamp, Tim (R – Kansas 1st), 202 225 1601
LaTourette, Steven (R – Ohio 14th), 202 225 5731
McClintock, Tom – California 4th), 202 225 2511
Meehan, Patrick (R – Pennsylvania 7th), 202 225 2011
Platts, Todd (R – Pennsylvania 19th), 202 225 5836
Poe, Ted (R – Texas 2nd), 202 225 4302
Rivera, David (R – Florida 25th), 202 225 2778
Rohrabacher, Dana (R – California 46th), 202 225 2415
Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana (R – Florida 18th), 202 225 3931
Wolf, Frank (R – Virginia 10th), 202 225 5136

Please reiterate the above message – and feel free to use these talking points, which point out why S. 1925 is the Real VAWA and how H.R. 4970 ROLLS BACK protections for victims. For example, H.R. 4970:
  • FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGES THE PURPOSE OF VAWA - REJECTS the input of thousands of advocates who say that S. 1925 is the bill that will serve victims the best and TAKES OUT the provisions in VAWA that allow for advocates to engage in a community coordinated state implementation plan under STOP.  Instead, H.R. 4970 gives administrators permission to
    ignore consultations with community organizations in planning their VAWA programs and spending.
  • EXCLUDES victims:  H.R. 4970 entirely excludes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) victims; limits the U visa program, barring the use of unused visas, AND WILL PUNISH victims WHO WORK with law enforcement to bring perpetrators to justice; fails to address the crisis of violence against American Indian women by not recognizing tribal court authority to hold perpetrators accountable. This bill takes away the ability of all Communities of Color to address
violence against women  in their communities and rolls back on resources for Women of Color and their communities that were gained in 2005. Because it excludes the most vulnerable victims, H.R. 4970 creates a host of protections for abusers.
  • TAKES MONEY FROM VICTIMS SERVICE PROVIDERS and spends it on more bureaucracy.

Your letters to the editor were instrumental in the progress we've made so far – keep them coming!

Use this sample letter and send it to your local paper.

To the Editor,

Congress has yet to send the Violence Against Women Act to the President for his signature.  The Senate bill, S. 1925, is a strong, bipartisan bill that will reauthorize essential laws and programs for another five years and build on effective, existing programs to meet the changing needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence.  The Senate bill was crafted over two years with input from thousands of advocates across the country and represents the needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence.  The House bill, H.R. 4970, rolls back many protections for victims, excludes victims and takes money from victim service provider to create more bureaucracy – in short, it fundamentally changes the purpose of VAWA.
VAWA saves lives and money – $12.6 billion in its first 6 years alone.  Approximately $400 million in annual funding supports local law enforcement, prosecution, courts, and victim services.  Since its passage in 1994, all states have strengthened rape laws and the number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34% for women and 57% for men.
Critics of the Senate bill fear that the bill will help "too many" victims.  Critics say S. 1925 gives immigrants a "new" way to enter the U.S., while in reality, provisions to protect abused immigrants have been in place since 1994.  They also claim S. 1925 would force all domestic violence and sexual assault programs to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) victims or be charged with discrimination.  In reality, S. 1925 has a provision that allows states to fund services specifically targeted to LGBT victims, who are often turned away or denied services because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  They say S. 1925 violates the Constitution by giving tribal courts the authority to punish non-Indians for committing domestic violence on tribal lands where 1 in 3 American Indian women will be raped in their lifetime. In fact, S. 1925 requires tribal courts to provide the same constitutional protections afforded to defendants in state criminal courts.   S. 1925 was crafted carefully with the input of thousands of advocates in the field who know what victims of violence need.  It's the right bill for victims of violence.
Senate leadership must move quickly to bring S. 1925 to the floor.  The Senate bill says, unequivocally, to all victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, "We will help you wherever and whenever you need help." The time has come for Congress to send this bill to the President. 
[Name, Title, Organization, Contact Info]

Thank you – as always for your great work!!

We've had over 40,000 visits to our website!  Check our website for fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates: www.4vawa.org.

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