Today, Congressman John Tierney and Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett were at the Lynn Emergency Shelter where they met with women, families, activists, and volunteers to discuss the critical importance of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
The U.S. Senate recently passed a bi-partisan bill with a 68-31 vote that upheld the tradition that has existed since 1994 of supporting VAWA in a strong bipartisan fashion. The Senate bill included provisions that help to protect domestic violence victims who are members of the LBGT community which experience abuse at the same rates as other groups, and that would enhance law enforcement's ability to prosecute batterers. However, when the House acted, the Republican Majority failed to pass the Senate version and instead passed a partisan bill that rolled back existing protections for immigrant women who are in the country legally, and removed the provisions for members of the LGBT community, and other measures advocated for by the law enforcement community.
"We must continue our efforts to prevent and protect against violence, sexual harassment, emotional abuse, and assault. I was glad to have DA Blodgett join me today to help bring attention to this serious and critical piece of legislation in our community," said Congressman John Tierney. "Today's event should send a strong message to House Republicans that it is time to get serious about protecting victims of abuse. I hope that they will heed our call and bring the bipartisan Senate bill to the House floor a vote."
"The Violence Against Women Act has long provided vital funding for the investigation and prosecution of violent acts against women. Now is not the time to pick and choose what categories of women we will protect and which ones we will not protect. We must protect ALL victims of violence and we must be specific and deliberate in providing that protection. It is so difficult and often life threatening for a woman in an abusive relationship to come forward, to seek help and escape the violence. If ANY woman takes those tentative steps, we must ensure that the resources and the help she needs will be in place," said Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.
"Violence is everyone's problem. I was glad to that both men and women came out today. Sometimes it's difficult for people to empathize but I think the amount of support shown by the community speaks volumes," said Margie St. Paul, Executive Director of the Lynn Shelter Association.
In the past, VAWA has received bipartisan support with other bills to reauthorize it and strengthen certain provisions passing nearly unanimously in 2000 and 2005. Over 350 domestic violence groups, faith groups women's groups and the Administration have expressed opposition to the House Republican bill. Congressman Tierney also opposed the house Republican version and called upon House leaders to bring forward and immediately pass the Senate bill.