Many may have missed this but a quiet war took place in the U.S. Senate on Thursday as Republicans tried to remove protections for LGBT victims of domestic abuse.
The original version of this year’s Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill, approved only by Democrats on the Judiciary Committee included language specifying that VAWA-funded programs could not discriminate based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of a victim.
Not pleased that LGBT victims domestic abuse or sexual violence were covered Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas, pictured left), co-authored a substitute bill with Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and then tried to push the Republican substitute bill stating that their bill kept the “most important” parts of the original legislation like strengthening protections for children against sexual predators while eliminating all references to LGBT protections and removing the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from throughout the original VAWA reauthorization .
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) spoke out strongly against the Hutchinson/Grassley replacement bill and stood strong in support of language including LGBT victims of domestic abuse.
“Clearly, there’s a real need to improve access and availability of services for this vulnerable population,” said Blumenthal Thursday, “and I support measures in this act that ensure victims of domestic and sexual violence, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can access those services they need.”
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, criticized the Republican substitute as undermining the “core principles” of the original bill saying that it “strips out key provisions to protect all victims…including victims in same-sex relationships.”
In the end the end Republican substitute bill was defeated Thursday on a vote of 37 yes to 63 no.
The Senate then went on to approve the original democrat version of the VAWA reauthorization bill by a vote of 68 yes to 31 no keeping sexual orientation or gender identity protections included in the bill.