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


WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 28, 2013 – The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the nation's leading Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill, which includes explicit protections for LGBT survivors of domestic violence. As a 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 worked to inform our constituents and elected officials 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 in 2012, but the House did not approve of the portion that would have explicitly included LGBT victims of violence. Both versions of the Senate bill (passed in 2012 and again earlier this year) had LGBT-inclusive provisions. House Republicans refused to take up this bipartisan Senate version and proposed a substitute that left out updates to VAWA that protected college students, American Indians, LGBT people, and other underserved groups vulnerable to domestic violence and sexual assault. Today, the House voted 286-138 in favor of the inclusive piece of legislation.

"I am encouraged that our Members of Congress were able to come together despite the polarized political climate we live in," stated Sharon Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director and CEO. "Protecting women, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, is bigger than political agendas and party line divides. It's about fairness."

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

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. 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 Programs (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."

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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.