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NBJC Applauds Senate’s Passage of Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

NBJC applauds the U.S. Senate’s passage yesterday of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill, which includes explicit protections for LGBT survivors of domestic violence. As a coalition member of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 210 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, NBJC informed senators about VAWA's importance and advocated for the bill's passage.

The landmark 1994 law central to the nation’s efforts against domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking was reauthorized in the House of Representatives, but did not approve of the portion that would have explicitly included LGBT victims of violence. The Senate version was the first to have LGBT-inclusive provisions.

The Anti-Violence Project reports that LGBT domestic violence victims have fewer supportive services, and they often face discrimination when seeking help. The Senate bill would ensure that all people are able to access services regardless of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The reauthorization of VAWA is critical for protecting the human rights of women to be free from domestic violence,” says Sharon Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director and CEO. “These protections are especially important for women of color, who experience the highest rates of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as LGBT victims of intimate partner abuse. Both groups are especially vulnerable and too often overlooked.”

In addition to its coalition work with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NBJC participated in the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change 2012 Lobby Day. NBJC coordinated and led the Maryland delegation, mobilized our constituents and met with Senate offices on Capitol Hill to discuss VAWA (as well as ENDA).

At NBJC’s annual OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit, the organization convened an anti-violence breakout session with a panel of experts including June Crenshaw, chair of the Rainbow Response Coalition, a group committed to breaking the silence and educating around partner violence in the LGBTQ communities, Ejeris Dixon, Deputy Director of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects (NCAVP) and Crystallee Crain, Professor at Deanza College. NBJC also hosted an unprecedented all Black trans women town hall that addressed the epidemic of violence against trans women.

“With VAWA and beyond, NBJC is committed to taking a systematic approach to end the serial killings of Black trans women and violence against women in general,” adds Lettman-Hicks. “We will continue to raise awareness and visibility as well as work closely with agencies like the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and national organizations such as the NCAVP to track, report, and expose the prevalence of violence against and within the Black LGBT community.”

Take action now. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak to your representatives. Let them know why VAWA is important to YOU!

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.