In a monumental vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which had previously been approved by the Senate. This year’s passage of the Act was of particular importance because it included protections for both Native Americans and LGBT Americans. Both Democrats and Republicans came together to authorize the act and ensure that “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” were among the groups with explicit protections.
This is the first time the LGBT community has been included in any federal non-discrimination provisions, and that marks a huge victory for the LGBT community. The passage of VAWA in conjunction with the briefs filed by both the Obama administration and many prominent Republicans urging the Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8 show incredible progress toward LGBT equality.
“It’s tremendous that both Republican and Democratic leaders came together to ensure that all domestic violence victims, including those who are LGBT, will not face discrimination when they seek services,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). “There need not be a partisan divide on LGBT issues and this vote shows that we can come together to find common sense solutions to issues facing our community.”
Essentially, the new bill provisions dictate that no program funded by the bill may discriminate against any victim based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Two key VAWA grant programs are also made explicitly LGBT inclusive by the bill.
President Obama has said that he will sign the bill, which was passed 78-22 in a bipartisan Senate vote and a 286-138 House vote on Sunday. Of the 286 who voted to pass the bill in the House, 87 were Republicans, which shows an encouraging amount of growth in the party’s support for LGBT Americans.