Leahy Praises Women Senators For Highlighting Importance Of VAWA

WASHINGTON (Thursday, March 15, 2012) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday praised a number of women Senators who took to the Senate Floor Thursday to call on the chamber to pass legislation to reauthorize the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  Leahy is the lead Senate author of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.  The bipartisan legislation was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February.

“The impact of the Violence Against Women Act has been remarkable,” said Leahy.  “It has provided lifesaving assistance to hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children.  I want to thank Senators Hagan, Mikulski, Murray, Murkowski, Klobuchar, Shaheen, Feinstein and Boxer, who came to the floor this afternoon to talk about the urgent need to pass this reauthorization. Their powerful stories about all VAWA has accomplished in the last eighteen years should remind us that real women, men and families depend on these critical programs. They save lives. We may not all agree on everything in this bill, but I hope that we can have a full debate and discuss those differences.  The Violence Against Women Act has long enjoyed bipartisan support.  There is no reason for that to change this year. Domestic and sexual violence knows no political party; its victims are Republican and Democrat; male and female; young and old.”

Leahy introduced the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in November with Idaho Republican Mike Crapo.  The bill would further strengthen and improve programs authorized under the landmark law to assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  The reauthorization bill includes an increased focus on sexual assault, including the addition of new purpose areas to support the efforts of sexual assault coalitions working in the states.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act also emphasizes the need to provide services to all victims of domestic and sexual violence.  The bill ensures access to services through a uniform non-discrimination provision that, for the first time in VAWA’s history, provides inclusive language to ensure that victims seeking assistance cannot be denied services based on gender identity or sexual orientation, as well as race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or disability.

Earlier this week, Leahy filed a comprehensive Committee Report to accompany the legislation.  The report is available online here.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act is supported by over 50 national religious organizations, more than 200 national organizations, and 500 state and local organizations, including victim service providers, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and survivors themselves.  The bill is cosponsored by 59 Senators, both Democrats and Republicans.

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