House Republicans strip LGBT, Native American protections from Violence Against Women Act

By David Ferguson
Saturday, February 23, 2013 16:14 EDT
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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Screenshot via CBS.
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Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have answered the Senate’s proposal to renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) by presenting their own version of the bill, but with protections of LGBT Americans taken out and a loophole that could exempt Native Americans victims of domestic abuse.

According to Think Progress, the House bill could derail renewal of the VAWA, killing any momentum the Senate bill had gathered since its proposal on Feb. 12.

Huffington Post provided a link to the bill and section-by-section analysis, which found the bill lacking any mention of key protections included in the Senate version of the renewal.

The House bill removes “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from “the list of underserved populations who face barriers to accessing victim services, thereby disqualifying LGBT victims from a related grant program,” wrote Huffington’s Jennifer Bendery. As a result, funds could potentially be witheld from LGBT-inclusive shelters and crisis centers.

States would have more discretion under the House version of the bill to determine what populations are being underserved, and are therefore more deserving of funding than others.

House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that protections included in the Senate bill for Native American victims of domestic violence are “unconstitutional.” Under the House bill, Native American tribal courts can prosecute non-Native American perpetrators of domestic abuse, but the maximum sentence those courts can impose is set at 1 year.

In his protest against the Native American protections included in the Senate bill, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) said that Native American juries are incapable of trying a white person fairly.

The House bill allows the accused to take their case to federal court if they feel their rights are being infringed upon. Think Progress reported, “Currently, Native American victims with non-native partners are caught in a limbo where tribal courts cannot touch perpetrators but federal law enforcement does not have jurisdiction.”

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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