Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Immediate action needed to defend Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

From Pat Reuss of The National Organization for Women:


February 26, 2013
Please forward widely!


House Republicans introduce partisan VAWA that fails to protect all victims
  

The Republican's version of VAWA, which substitutes the Senate's inclusive, comprehensive version of S.47 for a bill that excludes effective protections for LGBT, immigrant, tribal and campus victims, will likely be on the House floor this Thursday. NTF opposes this bill.  We need to call our Representatives and firmly ask them to vote against the House Republican Leader's substitute VAWA and ask them to vote for the field-approved VAWA passed in the Senate.


Tomorrow, Representatives Issa and Cole will ask the Rules committee to allow them to offer an amendment to replace the House's flawed tribal provisions with improved language that will provide effective, constitutionally sound protections for Native victims of domestic violence. Call your Representatives and ask them to tell House leadership to accept these amendments.

78 Senators from both parties and over 1,300 local, state and national professional and policy organizations support the Senate-passed bill as do law enforcement officials, health care professionals, community program and service providers, and the tens of millions of survivors and their families, friends and loved ones who rely on and have benefitted from and used the services and resources provided by the 19 year old law.

It must be noted that after months of tireless efforts by advocates working with the Republican leadership staff, there are some small but very important improvements in this substitute and the bill is not the punitive version of last year's House bill. 

That said, the Republican version of the bill  fails victims in a number of critical ways

  • Fails to include the LGBT provisions from the Senate bill. 

  • Fails to include "stalking" among the list of crimes covered by the U visa (a critical law enforcement tool that encourages immigrant victims to assist with the investigation or prosecution of certain enumerated crimes); current law already includes domestic violence and sexual assault, among others, and the Senate bill's inclusion of "stalking" recognizes the serious threat this crime poses to safety.

  • Provides non-tribal batterers with additional tools to manipulate the justice system, takes away existing protections for Native women by limiting existing tribal power to issue civil orders of protection against non-Native abusers, while weakening protections for Native women.

  • Contains harsh administrative penalties and hurdles for small struggling programs and an additional layer of bureaucracy through the office of the Attorney General. . 

  • Drops important provisions in the Senate bill that deal with improving campus safety and that work toward erasing the rape kit backlog.

  • Weakens protections for victims in public housing.


We must oppose this partisan substitute and pass the Senate version of VAWA.  201 Democrats are sponsors of H.R. 11, the House replica of the Senate bill as introduced. 19 Republican Representatives have asked the House Republican leaders to pass a bipartisan bill that "reaches all victims" and dozens more Republicans support some or all of the Senate provisions that are not included in the Republican VAWA imposter.

BIPARTISAN ACTION ITEM: Call your Democratic House members to ensure that they will oppose the Republican leadership's substitute and support the "real" S. 47, the Senate passed bill.

Find out if your Republican Representative is one of the 19 who supports a bipartisan, inclusive VAWA and ask them step up and to oppose the Republican leader's substitute and demand and support a vote on the Senate bill
a.    Call or email the 19 (Poe R-TX and Ros-Lehtinen R-FL have added their names ) who signed the letter to House leadership. See letter and signatories here.Names and contact information here
b.    Call or email the 7 Members who voted against last years' harmful, non-inclusive Republican VAWA
c.     Call or write the 26 House members who have interest in one or some of the Senate's inclusive provisions

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For more information, fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates: www.4vawa.org.

Follow us on Twitter at @NTFVAWA and "like" our Facebook page. Don't forget to tweet about VAWA using the hashtags #ReauthorizeVAWA, #RealVAWA and #VAWA.

If you aren't on one of the VAWA email lists or want to add members of your staff or state/community leaders to our grassroots alerts e-mailing list, send names and contact information including email to ntfvawaalerts@icasa.org. For more info, go to www.4vawa.org

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