Dear Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, Minority Leader Pelosi & Minority Whip Hoyer:
I write to express Legal Momentum’s continuing opposition to H.R. 4970, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill introduced by Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL). Legal Momentum is the nation’s oldest women’s and girl’s legal advocacy organization, and has had the privilege of working on VAWA with both the House and Senate in a bi-partisan way for nearly 20 years.
We are saddened to have arrived at a point where we must oppose a VAWA reauthorization bill but feel we must do so for a number of key reasons: 1) the bill rolls back current protections for immigrant victims of violence. Attempts to improve these provisions in the manager’s amendment have not solved dangerous problems with respect to both U-Visas and the self-petitioning process; 2) the bill does not go far enough to extend desperately needed protection to Native women who are being victimized by non-Native abusers, 3) the bill does not contain the Senate passed provisions that will ensure that the LGBT community received access to services; 4) the bill contains several dangerous mandatory minimum provisions, which could have the unintended effect of deterring victims from reporting domestic and sexual violence crimes.
In addition to the bill, we would also like to express our specific objections to a non-discrimination provision contained in one of the manager’s amendments. Though purporting to be a nondiscrimination provision, the language would actually permit discrimination in the provision of services by religious entities receiving VAWA funding. This, combined with the Adams bill’s troubling exclusion of the LGBT community from anti-discrimination protections could permit discrimination against a community that is already having difficulties accessing services.
Elizabeth L. Grayer