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Obama signs LGBT-inclusive domestic violence bill

Thursday, March 7, 2013

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Thursday signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill into law.

For the first time, the landmark measure includes protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender survivors of domestic violence. It also includes enhanced protections for Native American and immigrant survivors, and campus safety provisions.

Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Md., members of women’s organizations, law enforcement officials, tribal leaders, survivors, advocates and members of Congress, signs the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday during a ceremony at the Interior Department.
Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP

The 1994 federal law provides funds to enhance investigation and prosecution of violent crimes such as domestic violence and sexual assault, and it bolsters victim services programs.

Flanked by domestic-violence survivors, lawmakers, law enforcement officers and tribal leaders, Obama signed the extension to the Act in a ceremony at the Interior Department, which overseas programs for Native Americans. A key provision of the expanded law strengthens protections for victims who are attacked on tribal land.

Although the law was renewed twice in the past with little resistance, it lapsed in 2011 when Republicans and Democrats couldn’t agree on a bill to renew it.

The Republican-controlled House rejected a Senate-passed version making clear that lesbians, gays and immigrants should have equal access to the law’s programs.

The Senate bill also allowed tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians who attack their Indian partners on tribal lands, giving Native American authorities the ability to go after crimes that federal prosecutors, for lack of resources, often decline to pursue.

In February, House Republicans capitulated and allowed a vote on an almost identical version of the bill. It passed 286-138. It was the third time in two months that House Speaker John Boehner let a Democratic-supported bill reach the floor despite opposition from a majority of his own party — a clear sign that Republicans wanted to put the issue behind them after performing poorly among women in November’s election.

The president said the original law “changed our culture.” Obama praised Vice President Joe Biden, who wrote the bill in 1994, for making violence prevention one of his top priorities.

Developing story, check back for updates.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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26 more reader comments:

  1. *Sigh… I really wish we could just have a Violence Against PEOPLE Bill… seriously…

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 12:49pm
  2. finally he did something correct took him 3 years to get this shit done we are americand and deserver the rights of everyone (medical,jobs,the right to marry) finish the job and pass california duchbag

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 12:50pm
  3. Good job Mr. President!

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 12:51pm
  4. I think ANY kind of violence or abuse should be illegal… Regardless of Gender, Sexual Orientation, Race, etc…

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 12:52pm
  5. Im patiently waiting for gay marriage for florida residence….let’s go obama!

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 12:54pm
  6. he is so great!!! I really love obama for his tolerance!!

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 12:54pm
  7. @Jason KatyCat Perry ———–> if only life and humans in it could be this simple… how jolly we would all be, ya think?!!

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 12:55pm
  8. And it only took forever for him to do this. Too bad he has no control over the whole marriage situation. This country still has a lot of work to do.

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 12:57pm
  9. @jessica Jessica Preston

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 1:07pm
  10. Obama is my most favorite President. He supports gay marriage :)

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 1:12pm
  11. This is a MILESTONE for inclusive lgbt issues! So proud of Obama!

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 1:12pm
  12. I didn’t take him forever. It wasn’t in his power, it was congress you fool. The GOP hates gays not Obama. People are shouting that it took HIM long enough as if this didn’t exist before him. It took America long enough. Don’t pin everything on one person. That’s not fair.

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 1:13pm
  13. AMEN, Mr. President!!! <3

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 1:13pm
  14. Oh yeah baby, further inclusion of every United States citizen, should always be the standard and absolute norm of our country. It is way overdue and I for one, am extremely excited to see its day finally arrive. Now, let us hope and work towards a more permanent solution and law.

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 1:15pm
  15. cool so now we cannot be beaten by our lovers and partners but can still be killed by US Drones from above! Awesome! We can also protest and get pepper sprayed, tented and gassed, shot at with rubber bullets, and taken away without arrest or due process.

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 1:21pm
  16. About goddamn time

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 1:28pm
  17. Thank you, Mr. President

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 1:36pm
  18. and if he was truly evil like alot of the racist idiots have been saying he would have told us to f*ck off long ago. but see here he shows us that he actually does care .

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 1:38pm
  19. Let us be clear: The responsibility for the delay of the passing of this bill lies squarely at the feet of the Republicans in the House of Representatives. They voted down the passage of the VAWA twice in the past 2 years because they did not want protections for women in the GLBT community, Native American women who were not able to bring charges against non-Natives who attacked/raped them on tribal lands, and immigrant women–legal or illegal, who had been forced into prostitution or the sex trafficking trade. They believed none of those women were deserving of protection under the law. If you take out all those classes of people, (GLBT, Native American, Ethnic/Immigrant) guess who’s left over to use the pot of money? Yep! White women, in already existing, and funded, women’s shelters (a GOP women actually said this). That is f*cked up. This delay had NOTHING to do with Pres. Obama or the Democrats. It finally passed because some of the protections were watered down. I’d like to know, what is wrong w/ those people? It is the Violence Against Women Act, not the Violence Against Straight White Rich Women Act.

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 1:47pm
  20. like i said before..the right man for the job.

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 1:52pm
  21. This is all true and I’m not arguing with you. However, it must also be pointed out that the Senate sent this to the House last year with a tax increase added to it. The House cannot, by order of the Constitution, accept any bill that raises taxes. All revenues have to originate in the House. So, although I agree they would have done their best to delay based on the issues you mention, they honestly could not pass it that time. Again, I want to say I am not disagreeing with you. But it’s best to know all of the facts.

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 2:05pm
  22. It is also nice to see recent advancement for the T. With the strikes against DOMA and the repeal of DADT, the LGB are/were helped, but the T was still left behind. Even now, trans*people are still barred from joining the military. It’s time to bring us all to an even playing field, not just the LGB.

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 2:20pm
  23. now gay men and lesbians need to stop being violent in our personal relationships

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 2:22pm
  24. thank you again President Obama. As a gay man, he is my Lincoln

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 2:25pm
  25. President Barack Hussein Obama, you ‘da man! In the President’s chair in the White House! I’M SO DAMN HAPPY ABOUT THAT, STILL!

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 2:46pm
  26. thank you!

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 5:52pm