Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) celebrated Congress reauthorizing an expanded Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that provides protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), immigrant, and tribal victims of violent crime.
"The Violence Against Women Act passed today finally recognizes and provides equal protection for all domestic and sexual violence victims in our LGBT, immigrant and tribal communities," said Rep. Quigley. "Domestic and sexual violence can affect anyone. It doesn't discriminate based on sexual orientation or immigration status and neither should our government in the support and resources we provide victims. All Americans are stronger when we uphold our founding principles of fairness and justice by protecting all of the most vulnerable among us."
Rep. Quigley has long fought to strengthen VAWA and previously offered legislation to expand protections for LGBT victims. According to a 2010 study, 96 percent of victim services and law enforcement agencies said they did not have specific services for LGBT victims. According to a 2011 survey, 85 percent of service providers working with LGBT victims of violence saw a victim turned away or denied services because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
The issue of domestic and sexual violence is personal for Quigley, who had one of his first jobs as a teenager working at a domestic violence shelter in Chicago. As Cook County Commissioner, the Chicago Battered Women's Network honored him with its Community Advocate Award for his work to construct a new Domestic Violence Court House, where victims could safely seek justice without fear of running into their abusers.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is landmark legislation that provides vital resources to prevent, investigate and prosecute domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Every bipartisan reauthorization since original passage in 1994 has been updated to cover additional groups of vulnerable individuals, including seniors and victims with disabilities.