Acts of violence in a relationship are always tragic, no matter whom the victim is. Since 1994, federal law has protected victims of domestic violence under the terms of the Violence Against Women Act. However, there are no specific protections for acts of violence committed in same-sex relationships. If the U.S. Congress passes the bill recently approved by a senate panel, then LGBT individuals in New Jersey, and across the country, will have access to resources in cases of domestic violence.
Senator Patrick Leahy said that no other piece of legislation has done more to protect victims of relationship violence. The Violence Against Women Act is a great law, but the lawmaker believes it must be expanded to be more inclusive of all relationships.
This bill provides funding for educational programs that teach law enforcement and other agencies how to best handle cases of domestic violence. By adding specific provisions for the LGBT community, services would now be expanded to same-sex couples in violent relationships.
Leahy said the biggest motivation for these new provisions was to assert that “all victims count,” no matter their sexual orientation.
A recent study conducted by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence showed that LGBT people were frequently discriminated against when they sought resources for domestic violence. The results of this survey underscore the meaning of this piece of legislation. If this bill is passed into law, hopefully these individuals will not be turned away from the services they need.
Domestic violence can plague any union. The victims of these acts deserve to have access to all of the resources they need to heal, including capable legal advice. Having the right advice as a victim of domestic violence can help them move into a better, healthier place.
Source: The Washington Blade, “Senate panel approves LGBT-inclusive domestic violence bill,” Chris Johnson, Feb. 2, 2012