The Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition is a statewide coalition made up of 24 local domestic violence and sexual assault programs.
These programs serve domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking victims and their children in our state. As the only such coalition in the state it is ironic that we recently had to oppose the House version of the federal Violence Against Women Act. VAWA is a core piece of bipartisan federal legislation that has been the groundwork for our work with victims for years.
What has traditionally been a very effective piece of bipartisan legislation has turned into a mechanism for partisan politics.
The coalition supported the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act, which passed by a vote of 68 to 31 on April 26. Both Senators Enzi and Barrasso voted against this bill despite the requests of our coalition and members that they support it. Two weeks ago the House of Representatives took up their own version of VAWA. This legislation was pushed through extremely quickly, and the bill sponsors chose not to listen to the 325 organizations who opposed it.
The House sponsored a version of VAWA that undermines lifesaving housing protections, lowers reporting standards for violence and stalking on college campuses, fails to provide additional protections for Native American women, and fails to include language that would prohibit discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender victims.
In addition the House version weakens critical and longstanding provisions that allow battered immigrant spouses of U.S. citizens to escape abusive relationships and obtain the permanent immigration status to which they are already entitled.
Our coalition reached out to Rep. Lummis numerous times and asked that she not support the House’s version of VAWA. However, despite our requests and that of our local programs Rep. Lummis supported this bill.
We expect our delegation to do what is right for all victims. During a time of great need, we should be expanding or at least maintaining cost-effective, proven protections rather than weakening them.
The next step in the reauthorization process has yet to be clearly defined, but we hope this process will produce a stronger version of VAWA which will benefit all victims of crime. This is not about politics – it’s about good public policy.
Share on Facebook