The Violence Against Women Act expired at the end of 2012 after House Republicans refused to accept the Senate bill's protections for LGBT, Native American, and undocumented victims. Though the Senate passed another bipartisan VAWA reauthorization over a week ago, House Republicans may derail passage once again. On Friday, House GOP leaders released their own VAWA bill, stripping protections for LGBT individuals and adding a loophole for Native American victims.
Where the Senate bill granted access to federal grants for LGBT victims, the House bill is silent, removing all mention of "sexual orientation" or "gender identity." As a result of this omission, LGBT-inclusive crisis centers could be shut out from essential grant programs:
The House GOP bill entirely leaves out provisions aimed at helping LGBT victims of domestic violence. Specifically, the bill removes "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" from the list of underserved populations who face barriers to accessing victim services, thereby disqualifying LGBT victims from a related grant program. The bill also eliminates a requirement in the Senate bill that programs that receive funding under VAWA provide services regardless of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
The House bill also gives states some wiggle room by shifting greater authority to state government to decide which victimized groups are "underserved" and therefore deserve funding.