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Hill rally supports passage of Violence Against Women Act

Violence Against Women Act rallyPeople hold signs supporting passage of the Violence Against Women Act during a rally on Capitol Hill in June.

NASW staff members took part in a Capitol Hill rally in June to advocate for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (S.1925), as the House’s version of the bill contains language that leaves out the LGBT population, Native Americans and undocumented immigrants.

As a member of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which represents a coalition of more than 200 national organizations advocating for social justice and human rights, NASW strongly supports the law’s reauthorization.

Melvin Wilson, manager of NASW’s Department of Social Justice and Human Rights, said that once LCCR and its member agencies became aware that reauthorization of VAWA was not going to get enough votes to pass the House (the Senate had already approved it), they prepared a letter-writing campaign directed to Congress members to express their concerns.

“NASW was one of the LCCR member organizations that responded by sending a letter to Congress in support of reauthorization,” Wilson said.

The letter stressed the importance of including all women under the act, citing data from the National Institute of Justice and other agencies, which report that 37.5 percent of Native American women and 23 percent of men in same-sex relationships have experienced intimate partner victimization.

The Senate’s version of VAWA expands protections to domestic partners from the LGBT community, undocumented immigrant women and Native American women. The letter states that reauthorization of VAWA is absolutely essential to millions of women nationwide.

In further support of the initiative, NASW Senior Policy Adviser Evelyn Tomaszewski, Deputy General Counsel Anne Camper, Senior Practice Associate Stacy Collins and Policy Adviser for Women and LGBT Issues Rita Webb attended the rally to represent NASW’s involvement.

Speakers at the rally included Lisa Jacobs, of Legal Momentum; singer Michael Bolton; Vivian Huelgo, of the ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence; Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis.; Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; and Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill.