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ACTION ALERT: Call Your Senators and Ask Them to Support S. 2843 and NOT Senator Ernst’s VAWA Reauthorization Bill

On November 13th, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced S.2843, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019. S.2843 is the companion to H.R.1585, which passed the House of Representatives in April with strong bipartisan support. H.R.1585 was drafted with the support of advocates and is based on needs identified through extensive outreach to the field. S.2843 is the advocates’ bill.

Unfortunately, yesterday, Senator Joni Ernst introduced a different Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill that fails to meet the identified needs of victims, survivors, and advocates. In fact, they did not even show domestic violence advocates the bill text in advance for our feedback! Senator Ernst’s bill:

  • Not only excludes vital enhancements to protect LGBTQ survivors for which the field asked but also actively rolls back existing LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections;
  • Prioritizes adjudicated abusers’ access to guns over the lives, safety, and rights of survivors by leaving out lifesaving, common sense provisions to recognize that the same gun laws that apply to spousal abusers should also apply to dating abusers;
  • Takes a big step backwards in addressing the needs of Native survivors;
  • Maintains barriers to safety and justice for marginalized communities; and
  • Precludes future opportunities to improve VAWA by reauthorizing it for ten years instead of the normal five years.

The increased authorization levels in this bill in no way justifies rollbacks that will harm victims or this bill’s failure to address issues of life and death. Says the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s President/CEO, Ruth M. Glenn, “This is a watershed moment for the violence against women field. Are we going to allow dangerous abusers to continue to threaten their victims with guns? Are we going to actively regress as a nation in our response to domestic and dating violence? Are we going to accept easy money in return for abandoning our most vulnerable victims and survivors?  Or are we going to stand by our integrity and continue to push for a VAWA FOR ALL.”

 This is just like what happened between 2010 and 2013, when we had two bills - the real bill and the fake bill. It took three years, but the field never gave up, and we ultimately passed a strong bipartisan VAWA reauthorization in 2013 that made sure no survivor would be turned away from shelter based on sexual orientation or gender identity and that ended impunity for abusers who perpetrated violence against Native women on tribal lands. We fought hard, then, and we won. We will continue to fight for victims and survivors; this means fighting for S.2843 (the advocates’ bill) and against Senator Ernst’s bill.

Your voice made the difference in 2010, and it will make the difference now. Call or email your Senators or contact them on social media and tell them to Sponsor S. 2843. Tell them:

  • You are a constituent.
  • S.2843 is the companion bill to H.R.1585, which passed the House of Representatives six months ago with strong bipartisan support.
  • S.2843 is based on extensive outreach to the domestic violence field and addresses the needs of victims, survivors, and advocates. It is the advocates’ bill.
  • Senator Ernst’s VAWA reauthorization not only does not meet the needs of survivors, it actually moves us backwards.
  • Now is the time for bold action, not for half-measures that do not meet the needs of survivors.

You can find your Senators and their contact information here. You can find their social media handles here.

Please email Rachel Graber (rgraber@ncadv.org) with any questions. Please direct media inquiries to Lynn Brewer (lbrewer@ncadv.org).

Posted by Lynn Brewer-Muse at 10:21 AM
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