A GIF Guide to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

In 1993, U.S. Senator Joseph Biden and the majority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee conclude a three‐year investigation into the causes and effects of violence against women. In his introduction to the report, Senator Biden states, “Through this process, I have become convinced that violence against women reflects as much a failure of our nation’s collective moral imagination as it does the failure of our nation’s laws and  regulations. We are helpless to change the course of this violence unless, and until, we achieve a national consensus that it deserves our profound public outrage.”
President Clinton signs the Violence Against Women Act into law on September 13, 1994. The Act strengthens laws against sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking and provides much-needed funding for prevention, prosecution, and victim services efforts. The Act also established the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice.
The VAWA is  reauthorized easily in a bipartisan vote in 2000 under Clinton. 
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The VAWA is again reauthorized easily in a bipartisan vote in 2005 under President Bush.
 In April 2012, the Senate votes to reauthorize the VAWA. 
But the House passes its own measure, omitting provisions of the Senate bill that would protect LGBTQ folks, Native Americans living on reservations, and undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence.
Republicans refuse to compromise on these provisions. Apparently, it’s worth scrapping the whole bill rather than ensuring that these three vulnerable groups are protected.
On January 2, 2013, the Senate’s 2012 reauthorization of VAWA is not brought up for a vote in the House, and the law is allowed to expire after 18 years in effect.
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As I write this, the bill has been reintroduced and will likely pass in the Senate today. But House Republicans are continuing to stall, refusing to budge on the protections for Native American women.


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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