The US House of Representative, after much debate and back and forth, passed the Senate-approved version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that includes important protections for LGBT people. Last May, the House passed their own non-LGBT inclusive version in a highly partisan vote but that bill died at the end of the last Congress. Today’s victory marks a rare occasion when Republicans and Democrats came together to ensure explicit protections in the federal code for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” It is also the first time that any federal non-discrimination provisions included the LGBT community.
President Obama has pledged to sign the bill which prohibits any program or activity funded by the bill from discriminating against a victim based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It also explicitly includes LGBT victims in two key VAWA grant programs. HRC lobbied to include the language in the Senate bill and urged House members to pass the inclusive language as well. [HRC]