Senate Passes Gay-Inclusive Domestic Violence Bill

Today the Senate voted 78-22 to reauthorize the the Violence Against Women Act, with a provision included that assures services to gay and lesbian victims of domestic violence.

The legislation could have a harder time passing in the House of Representatives though, as some Republicans object to the gay-inclusive provision as well as those covering immigrants and allowing Indians to prosecute non-Indians who commit criminal acts on tribal lands.

"The original Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994, but it expired in 2011, and Congress failed to reauthorize it last year, due to partisan differences over details. Vice President Joe Biden, who as a senator from Delaware helped pass the 1994 bill, is working with House Republican leader Eric Cantor on that chamber’s new version of the legislation, the Associated Press reports.

The reauthorization would provide $650 million to states over five years to go toward transitional housing, legal assistance, and other services for people who have suffered domestic violence. It contains a provision that would prohibit denial of services on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability. Studies indicate many LGBT victims of domestic abuse have been turned away from shelters or denied protection orders."