After a 220-day impasse between Democrats and Republicans over the Violence Against Women Act, twelve Democratic women in the U.S. Senate are reaching out to Republican House Counterparts to help renew the 18-year-old law, which helps local law enforcement solve and prosecute domestic violence, including crimes of violence against women.
The renewal of the Violence Against Women Act had passed the Senate on a bipartisan 68-31 vote, with additional provisions to protect undocumented women who are victims of domestic violence, Native American women on reservations and same-sex partners. But the Republican-led House narrowly passed a version of the bill deleting the provisions protecting Native and gay victims of violence.
Supporters of the House bill say the additions are side issues that have been attached to the Senate bill, and that since federal law does not currently recognize same-sex couples, those issues should be handled in a separate measure. Proponents of the expanded bill, though, say that violence is violence and the bill should be expanded to encompass that recognition.
Each time the 1994 law has been renewed, it has been expanded. In 2000, the expansion extended to cases of stalking and date-related violence. In 2006, the expansion extended protection to young women and Native American women.
We have mentioned this debate before on this blog, as well as the importance of devoting public resources to protecting victims of domestic violence. It is also important, though, to recognize the need to defend those accused of domestic violence. Those faced with false accusations and unjust charges deserve a solid defense if we are to expect any kind of justice to emerge from our criminal system.
Source: Seattle Post Intelligencer, "Dem senators to GOP women: Help us pass violence law!," Joel Connelly, December 18, 2012