President Obama Signs Violence Against Women Act
5:30 pm, March 7th | by Colette McIntyre
Ladies, grab your vuvuzelas, put Kool And The Gang on repeat, and begin helicoptering your bras over your heads: after much Congressional kerfuffling, President Obama finally signed the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act into law.
Originally passed in 1994, VAWA provides federal funding for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of domestic and sexual violence. The reauthorized act features several new measures including provisions granting Native American tribes jurisdiction to prosecute non-native perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence against native women, extended protections for LGBTQIA individuals and organizations, the SAFER Act, which hopes to lead to the elimination of the DNA backlog of evidence collected in rape cases, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act which provides services to victims of human trafficking.
All of those addendums sound pretty rad, right? It’s not like anyone was trying to slip “banish congenial social gatherings involving oven-baked, flat, round breads topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and/or various toppings” in there. Yet, in 2011, the Violence Against Women Act lapsed after Republican and Democratic lawmakers couldn’t agree on a bill to renew. The Republican-controlled House took issue with the expansion of rights and protections to lesbians, gays, transgendered men and women, immigrants, and native peoples. Thankfully, after being hotly contested in both chambers of Congress, VAWA passed with 78-22 and 286-138 margins in the Senate and House, respectively.
This afternoon, President Obama signed the extension to the Violence Against Women Act at the Interior Department, which oversees programs for Native Americans. He was accompanied by domestic-violence survivors, lawmakers, law enforcement officials, tribal leaders, and Vice President Joe Biden who as a senator wrote and sponsored the original bill in 1994. The renewal of the Violence Against Women Act authorizes $659 million of annual funding for programs that provide grants for transitional housing, legal assistance for survivors, law enforcement training and hotlines.
[Photo via US News]