Making changes in national law to protect victim/survivors of domestic violence!


Needing to Sign the VAWA Petition — Goal 1,000,000 signers!!

Disappointing Outcome — Yesterday’s Congressional Embarrasments Explained

Yesterday’s Congressional Embarrassments, Explained

By: David Dayen Thursday May 17, 2012 12:40 pm

US Capitol (photo by

Let’s recap one of the more pathetic days in a pathetic Congressional session.

In the House, voting concluded on the GOP version of the Violence Against Women Act, a real marker into the rightward shift of that party. On previous occasions with GOP control of Congress, VAWA was reauthorized without incident. This time around, however, while the Senate passed a reauthorization with bipartisan support, 31 Republicans still voted against it. And in the House, the Republicans deleted key measures that would weaken the status quo of the law, eliminating protections for Native Americans, LGBT couples and undocumented immigrants. This drew a veto threat from the White House, and enough negative criticism that the House GOP, with a “manager’s amendment,” pretended to “fix” the bill. The revealing data point here is that hundreds of women’s groups objected to the House version of the bill, but a misogynistic group called the National Coalition for Men endorsed it. Even Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski wrote to House Republicans to implore them to just pass the Senate version of the bill, to no avail.

The bill narrowly passed, with 22 Republicans opposing it. Unbelievably, six Democrats voted for the bill, some to avoid the stigma of “voting against the Violence Against Women Act,” I presume. (Nevada Senate hopeful Shelley Berkley was one of them; the others were ConservaDems John Barrow, David Boren, Jim Matheson, Mike McIntyre and Collin Peterson.)

Over in the Senate, the entire day was taken up by a series of votes on budget measures, none of which had any chance of passing. The Democratic position is that last year’s debt limit deal effectively locked in place the spending targets you would see in a budget resolution, meaning there’s no need to pass one right now. But Republicans forced the issue to embarrass the opposition. And while they succeeded in getting a 0-99 vote for what they called the “President’s budget,” Republicans also voted in large majorities on two occasions for budgets by Paul Ryan and Pat Toomey, which not only end Medicare as we know it and make a number of other unpopular cuts to social programs, but which also allow student loan interest rates to double, after Senate Republicans said specifically they wanted to avoid that outcome.

The budget votes were largely a Republican effort to embarrass President Obama and Democrats for failing to coalesce around a long-term fiscal vision. But it also presented an opportunity for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) to needle the GOP on a contradiction.

“Does this budget permit the interest rates on student loans to double on July 1?” Harkin asked of the Ryan budget, which has already passed the House.

“It does,” Conrad replied.

“Thank you, senator,” Harkin said.

So there you have it; ideological crusades, unproductive vote-a-ramas, massive contradictions – there’s your 2011-2012 Congress.

Today should be a bit better; the Senate will probably confirm two nominees to vacancies at the Federal Reserve after having rejected other nominees for these positions previously.

via Firedoglake.

via Firedoglake.

via Firedoglake.

House Passes VAWA with Weakened Tribal Provisions; NCAI Voices Serious Concerns Regarding HR4970

This is so very disappointing…….

House Passes VAWA with Weakened Tribal Provisions; NCAI Voices Serious Concerns Regarding HR�4970

NCAI Calls for House and Senate to Restore Bi-Partisan Tribal Provisions of S.1925

Washington, DC (May 16, 2012) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted and passed a version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization – HR 4970 – without any of the key tribal jurisdictional provisions intact. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has serious concerns about the alternative provisions contained in the House bill and is calling on the House and Senate to restore the bipartisan and constitutionally sound tribal provisions in the Senate version of the bill, S.1925, that create local solutions to the epidemic of domestic violence experienced by Native women.

“Native women aren’t safer as a result of the passage of HR 4970. In fact, the tribal provisions included in this bill create additional hurdles for Indian women seeking protection from violence on tribal lands, and that is unacceptable,” said Juana Majel-Dixon, 1st Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and co-chair of the NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women. “Indian Country supports the bipartisan Senate VAWA bill, which contains constitutionally sound tribal provisions that provide local solutions that will deliver long-overdue justice to Native women and safety to tribal communities.”

Passed by a vote of 222-205, the tribal provisions included in HR 4970 would be a step backward in contrast to the bipartisan Senate VAWA bill, supported by NCAI and tribes across the country. Over the past few days, H.R. 4970 has been amended to include provisions that have the potential to cause great confusion surrounding tribes’ authority to issue civil protection orders and that could further endanger Native victims.

HR 4970 would “federalize” the issuance and enforcement of protection orders for Native victims, authorizing Indian victims of domestic violence or Indian tribes on behalf of Indian victims to seek protection orders from U.S. district courts against suspects of abuse. This approach fails to address the crux of the problem – a lack of local authority to handle misdemeanor level domestic and dating violence when the perpetrator is non-Indian. The legislation passed by the House is drafted in a way that undermines the safety and autonomy of victims.

On the other hand, S.1925 contains key tribal provisions that would empower the governmental authorities closest to the alleged criminal activity-tribal police and courts-to intervene early in acts of domestic violence committed by non-Indians within the tribe’s territory, before the violence escalates to the point of serious assault or homicide. These provisions are limited in scope, do not infringe on existing federal or state court jurisdiction, and defendants who stand trial before a tribal court would have the full panoply of constitutional rights.

via House Passes VAWA with Weakened Tribal Provisions; NCAI Voices Serious Concerns Regarding HR 4970 | Tribal Law Updates.

via House Passes VAWA with Weakened Tribal Provisions; NCAI Voices Serious Concerns Regarding HR 4970 | Tribal Law Updates.

NOW Supports Vote Against revised version of VAWA in the U.S. House and has another Call to Action

Spread the word »

Tell Your Representative to Vote
Against H.R. 4970, the Adams VAWA Bill

May 15, 2012

TAKE ACTION: The House of Representatives is expected to vote on Wednesday, May 16, for the Republican version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4970), which not only eliminates important provisions included in the Senate-passed bipartisan bill (68-31, S. 1925), but contains new ones that would actually be dangerous to survivors of domestic violence while shielding abusers from accountability. The Republican leadership will not allow any floor amendments.

PLEASE CALL NOW – Call your House member as soon as possible to oppose H.R. 4970 (known as the Adams bill) and to urge that there be an open debate on the House floor with amendments permitted. NOW opposes H.R. 4970, and unless it can be amended to restore important protections, NOW will consider a vote for the bill to be a vote against VAWA and against victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.

Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202-224-3121      end_of_the_skype_highlighting , and ask for your representative’s office. Or, you can look up the name and phone number of your representative right on NOW’s website.


Adams Bill is Racially Exclusionary and Puts Survivors at Risk – The House Judiciary Committee recently reported out a bill, sponsored by Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.), that rolls back protections for victims of violence and fails to include provisions included in the bipartisan Senate bill that would help Native American women, immigrant women, LGBT persons and college students. A much better bill (H.R. 4271) has been introduced by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), but conservative leaders are not allowing this version to be offered for a vote. Additionally, no improvements to the Adams bill can be made if floor amendments are not permitted prior to the vote.

Your House Target List – More information on the “real VAWA” can be found on the website of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, including fact sheets, a toolkit, summaries of the legislation and other useful materials. Calling your House member (instead of sending an email) is critically important, as the vote is set to occur on Wednesday, May 16. Activists in the following states, especially, should contact their House member: Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.

New York Times Editorial: Backward on Domestic Violence, May 14


Here’s some suggested language for the call to your House member:

Vote Against H.R. 4970 – As a supporter of the National Organization for Women, I urge you to vote AGAINST, H.R. 4970, the Adams bill, which does not contain needed protections for victims of violence that I believe are critically important. I agree with NOW that a vote for the Adams bill is a vote against the Violence Against Women Act. I support a bill like the bipartisan Senate bill that protects Native American women, immigrant women, and LGBT violence survivors. The Adams bill allows no opportunity for a discussion of humane alternatives that treat victims with respect and decency. There is support in the House for a reauthorization of VAWA that more closely resembles the Senate-passed bill (H.R. 1925), and members should have a chance to weigh the merits of alternatives to the Adams bill before they vote for final passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.

Puts Victims in Grave Danger – The Adams bill completely undermines the spirit of the landmark bill passed 18 years ago. NOW is “scoring” this vote, meaning that we consider a vote for the Adams bill to be a vote against VAWA.

If your representative (or the staff member to whom you are speaking) indicates that she/he will vote against the Adams bill, please thank them, and encourage them to persuade other House members to do the same.

If your representative indicates that she/he intends to vote for the Adams bill, you may want to use these talking points:

» I strongly urge you not to support a bill that imposes cruel new reporting restrictions on immigrant survivors of violence — eliminating confidentiality, putting victims in grave danger and shielding abusers from accountability.

» Please do not abandon victims because of their racial and legal status.

» This second-class treatment of women of color smacks of willful ignorance of the problem and hostility toward the victims.

» I cannot support and vote for someone who claims to support ending violence against women but votes for a bill that is exclusionary and ignores the biases and disrespect that certain victims face when seeking help from the criminal justice system and access to life-saving services.

Call House Leaders – Finally, if you can, call the House leadership to tell them that you think H.R. 4970 harms victims and is not the real VAWA. Tell them that victims of violence deserve an open debate on the House floor, with amendments permitted. Call Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) at 202-225-0600 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202-225-0600      end_of_the_skype_highlighting (leadership office) or 202-225-6205 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202-225-6205      end_of_the_skype_highlighting (personal office), and call Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) at 202-225-4000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202-225-4000      end_of_the_skype_highlighting and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R. Calif.) at 202-225-2915 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202-225-2915      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Thanks for all you do for NOW.

HR 4970 FACT SHEET *****

HR 4970 includes dangerous provisions for many victims, omits crucial protections for others and generally weakens the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) HR4970’s Audit requirements are excessive, burdensome and costly and divert limited grant funding from direct services to bureaucracy

 Since enactment, VAWA has included important reporting and oversight provisions both for grantees and for the Department of Justice (DOJ).

 HR 4970 erodes, rather than enhances, effective oversight. HR 4970:

o Inhibits effective accounting practices by redirecting energy from good
accounting industry standards for small non-profit organizations to “make work”
efforts which serve only to grow government and handicap victim services.

o Fails to include the provision of pre-emptive technical assistance and training to
small—especially rural—non-profit organizations and instead imposes punitive,
resource diverting mandates on local programs.

 In separate letters addressed to Representative Poe and Senator Leahy, DOJ has reported that “VAWA grants are being used effectively for their intended purpose,” that “grant management and grantee recordkeeping are generally sound,” and that when auditing problems arise, they are “not about waste, fraud or abuse, but rather about inadequate accounting and insufficient documentation” and are quickly resolved.

 In order to effectively serve victims, the resources required to implement this substantial new audit requirement would be better spent on technical assistance and financial training for the hundreds of small police departments, courts, and non-profits who are OVW grantees. Erodes important provisions for immigrant victims’ safety and gives abusers additional
tools with which to harm victims.

 Amendments allowing the alleged abuser access to the self-petition process create a
chilling effect on victims’ help-seeking. Abusers who could have adjusted the status of their spouse and chose not to as a tool of abuse and fear will be in a position to block the victim’s access to this critical remedy for battered immigrants. Informing and allowing alleged abusers to provide input in these cases puts victims at significant risk of retaliation. Abusers frequently deny the abuse and falsely accuse victims of fraud or abuse. HR 4970 allows abusers to contact ICE to try to stop their spouse from getting legal status.

 Shifting the self-petition process to local offices is duplicative, expensive, and does not address concerns about fraud. Adding an additional interview requirement is unnecessary, would be very costly and would require extensive training on domestic violence and sexual assault at USCIS offices across the country. Currently, the specialized USCIS center that adjudicates these applications is trained to weigh the evidence and ferret out fraud and can request additional evidence if necessary. Additionally, self-petition applicants have to attend an interview at their local offices to adjust their status to lawful permanent residence. The double interview requirement places an extra hurdle for victims of abuse not required for other applicants for status.2

 Adding an interview process to VAWA cancellation of removal hearings to local offices is duplicative and expensive. In VAWA cancellation of removal cases, the petitioner appears at hearings with an immigration judge, so a separate interview places an unnecessary burden. Adding an interview process to VAWA cancellation hearings will slow immigration court cases down immensely, bogging down the court calendar further. Limits the U visa program, barring the use of unused visas, and will endanger victims who work with law enforcement to bring perpetrators to justice.

 Victims of crime should be able to work with law enforcement to bring perpetrators to justice.

 Limiting the U-visa certification process will discourage victims from coming forward and cooperating with law enforcement. Yet law enforcement tells us that failing to report crimes like these only exacerbates their negative impact on the community. Considering that many who commit U-visa crimes are serial perpetrators, law enforcement wants victims to come forward regardless of whether there is an active investigation or prosecution has begun.

 Restrictive certification requirements discourage cooperation with law enforcement.
Victims who were hurt even long ago can provide useful information in holding serial
perpetrators accountable. This is true for citizen victims as well as immigrant victims. Undermines the potential of lifesaving housing protections in VAWA

 Emergency transfers:

o One of the most pressing needs identified by victims and their advocates is the
ability to relocate/transfer to a safe home to escape violence.

o The housing emergency relocation and transfer section in VAWA should (as it
does in the Senate passed S.1925) require that owners, managers and public
housing agencies (PHAs) adopt the transfer plan developed by federal agencies.

o HR 4970 makes the adoption of such a plan voluntary by owners, managers and
PHAs, essentially undermining the remaining components of this potentially
lifesaving provision.

 Notice of rights:

o The housing rights codified by VAWA protect victims of domestic violence,
dating violence, sexual assault and stalking from eviction or denial of benefit
based on their status as victims and/or the actions of their perpetrators.

o In order to enjoy these rights and avoid unlawful eviction, notice of VAWA rights
should be distributed at key times, specifically at eviction. Without adequate
notice, victims will never know they have the right not to be evicted based on the
actions of their perpetrators or as a result of violence/assault.

o By giving notice at eviction, owners, managers and PHAs can help victims come
forward and avoid costly, contentious and unnecessary eviction proceedings.

o HR 4970 does not require notice at eviction, unlike the Senate passed S. 1925
Fails to include key provisions needed to help reduce violence against young women.
Provisions omitted would have to:

 Require institutions to include in their annual campus crime reports statistics on
domestic violence, dating violence and stalking (sexual assault is already in the Clery 3 Act) reported on campus and would have to provide clear statements regarding the procedures followed when a case of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking is reported.

 Require institutions to give victims a written explanation of their rights any time they report being a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, including:

o victim’s right to notify (or not notify) law enforcement if they choose e to do so;

o obligation of institution to help the victim report the incident to law enforcement
and seek a protective order from a local court;

o victim’s options regarding changing academic, living, transportation and working
situations, if the victim so requests and such accommodations are reasonably

 Required institutions to establish clear, prompt and equitable procedures for on-campus disciplinary action in cases of alleged domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking

 Given both the victim and the accused with the right to have another person present at disciplinary proceedings

 Provided prevention programs teaching all students, male and female, how to help
prevent sexual violence and dating violence, including bystander education.



Crew –

I realize I usually send you information regarding the Texas legislative process and so you may be surprised to see an email and an action alert from me especially because the Texas legislature will not be in session until January 2013. This email relates to important efforts TCFV and our partners have taken on at the federal level.

For the past year, Congress has been working on the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA is a coordinated civil and criminal legal and direct services approach that has worked for over almost two decades. In 2011 alone, Texas received $8.8 million in grants that help communities all over the state take violence against women seriously. I myself served as a VAWA-funded prosecutor and so saw the direct impact to our efforts at keeping vicitms safe and holding offenders accountable.

Bottom line: VAWA represents the federal government’s robust, comprehensive and successful approach to addressing intimate partner violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The Congressional authorization of VAWA must be renewed from time to time and in fact the authorization for the past cycle expired almost two years ago. TCFV has been participating and monitoring the progress of Reauthorization, including getting into the details of the various bills and offering direct feedback to national partners and the Texas elected delegation. Whereas in the previous two cycles of VAWA Reauthorization the bill drew no opposition, this time around Congress has not come to consensus as easily.

The good news is that the Senate has already passed S.1925; this bill represents the most thoroughly vetted and bipartisan approach to Reauthorization. TCFV supports S.1925 and asks that you do so as well. If you would like to appraise the bill yourself, you can find the full text at The bill passed the Senate by a margin on 68-31.

The House has also taken up the measure with its HR 4970. Although the House version contains significant components of S.1925, it also omits and incorporates different provisions that will harm victims and their service provision. Among several areas of concern are the significant erosion of protection for immigrant victims of violence and the increase of bureaucracy and resulting expense that would come from direct victim services funding. If you are interested, here is the entire bill –

Two important steps in the process most likely will occur this week. First, the powerful House Rules Committee will determine this Tuesday how the debate will occur when the overall House votes on the bill. The Rules Committee will decide whether members will be allowed to offer changes to the bill and even whether debate on the bill can occur on the House floor. TCFV calls for the inclusion of amendments that protect vulnerable immigrant victims and others, a debate of the bill on the House floor and allowing the introduction of amendments during the debate.

Second, the bill will go to the full House for a vote. In preparation for that vote, TCFV calls on Texas House members to support changes to HR4970 that conform with S.1925 to the greatest extent possible.

In service of these goals, TCFV continues to work with our Congressional partners to offer solutions regarding the provisions. This is where you can help.

We have drafted the attached letter that you can use to communicate your support for S.1925 and the needed changes to HR 4970; Texas family violence programs, their boards and community partners will be particularly impactful, but contacts from others will also help. Because time is of the essence, we ask that you make contact today and do so by email rather than a traditional letter. TCFV makes careful and strategic decisions about how often and in what manner to call on programs and supporters to make this kind of outreach. We ask for you to do so because we judge this stage and this approach to be key in the VAWA Reauthorization process.

Do you know who represents you in Congress? Find out at

In addition to your elected members, also consider including:
-Chairman Lamar Smith, who leads the Judiciary Committee (
-Congressman Pete Sessions, who serves on the Rules Committee (

I have also attached a fact sheet which highlights some key areas of HR 4970 that we ask the House to change.

After the House completes it work on VAWA Reauthorization, the Senate and the House would then need to convene a Conference Committee comprised of Senate and House members to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill. Following that conference committee work, the resulting bill would then return to both chambers for their ratification. These will also be important steps and as such TCFV will communicate with you in a strategic manner and at strategic points along the way.

Questions? I am happy to speak with you on VAWA or any topic. See below for my card with my cell number.

Cheers –


The Law, Race and Gender unit takes on the "unconstitutionality" of the Traditional Courts Bill

Reblogged from

While we, here in the United States, have trouble ensuring that the rural America is as well educated on the current trends of the laws 100% of the time, albeit that has been changing with technology, in Africa, they are further challenged by the rural communities are still operating under 1927 law that did not allow women to represent themselves in the governmental process. There has been a curiosity of a debate in the United States about the current update of VAWA 2012; can you imagine if women weren't even allowed to have their voices represented -- especially, if in the rural communities? It would be wonderful to have the global, international communities to be on the same page of being able to give all women internationally voices to be heard so that women are not harmed, no matter what part of the world they are in -- and, no matter if they are in the city or rural communities? Wouldn't it be a blessing to see that one day that we could have an iVAWA (International Violence Against Women Act) introduced one day? This will only be possible, if the women's voices all over are clearly represented in the courts and legislative processes throughout the world. Just a thought to consider....while viewing this article and video.

More on the debate of passing VAWA of 2012

I received an email from Debby Tucker who was requesting a call to action first and foremost. Her entry into the debate is outlined below the call to action:

I was honored to be invited to submit an entry in this U.S. News & World Report Debate Club and would sincerely appreciate your review of my submittal and those of several others.

You must go to the actual page at the link above to find the arrows up and down on each article posted and to add your votes to this debate.

I would be grateful for clicking the UP on my article to support advancing VAWA’s reauthorization.

Thank you, Debby

Should the Violence Against Women Act Be Reauthorized?
Violence Against Women Act is Working

The Violence Against Women Act must be reauthorized because it is working



By Deborah D. Tucker , Executive Director of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence

March 19, 2012

About Deborah D. Tucker:

Deborah D. Tucker is executive director of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. She was the founding chair of the National Network to End Domestic Violence during its leadership in the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 and serves on the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women.

The Violence Against Women Act must be reauthorized first and foremost because it is working. Violence in domestic and dating relationships is declining, and we are also actively seeking to prevent sexual violence and stalking.

Nevertheless the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, and other studies available on the Research and Statistics section of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence website tell us that nearly one in four women are beaten or raped by a partner during adulthood, and each year approximately 2.3 million people are raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former intimate partner. One in six women and one in 33 men has experienced an attempted or completed rape. In the United States, an average of three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day.

[Read: Dems Put GOP in Political Box Over Women's Issues]

One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. Children exposed to violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, engage in teenage prostitution, and commit sexual assault crimes. Men exposed to physical abuse, sexual abuse, and domestic violence as children are almost four times more likely than other men to perpetrate domestic violence as adults. Many costs are associated with these crimes—medical, legal, absenteeism from work and school as well as the incalculable damage to individuals and families.

Advancing a Coordinated Community Response, a linchpin of the initial Violence Against Women Act in 1994 that was enhanced in the reauthorizations of 2000 and 2005, was based on what we had learned. Then-Senator, now Vice President Joe Biden created> this federal effort to impact the incidence of violence across our nation with input from the National Network to End Domestic Violence and its members State Domestic Violence Coalitions, State Sexual Assault Coalitions now comprising the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence , and other advocacy groups. Coordinated Community Responses encourage social services, criminal justice, education, civic groups, and many more to partner with rape crisis centers, battered women’s shelters, State Domestic Violence Coalitions, State Sexual Assault Coalitions, national community based and governmental organizations. These partnerships change cultural norms and institutional practices that support rather than prevent the use of power and control over others. Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act in 2012 will make it possible to continue full speed ahead to end this violence.

· Join the debate on Facebook.

· Follow U.S. News Debate Club on Twitter.

· Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider’s guide to politics and policy.



domestic abuse

Don’t forget to respond to the call for action! :)

VAWA Reauthorization 2011

Reblogged from In The News...:

Click to visit the original post

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women – more than car accidents, muggings, and rape combined. And studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic abuse annually. Everyone has a right to be safe. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) gives law enforcement, prosecutors and judges the resources they need to hold offenders accountable, keeps communities safe while supporting victims, and provides critical funding for prevention and education.

Read more… 1,223 more words

This has specific call to actions that mention dates in early March, but I don't think it can ever be too late to check with your legislators to see how they are voting for this Reauthorization of VAWA.


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