The LGBT Community Needs to Rally Around VAWA
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VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act, has been passed by the Senate and has now moved to the House for consideration, where it is facing heated, bigoted, misogynistic, and homophobic attacks from conservative congressmen who oppose the included protections for LGBTers and other minorities.
Melissa Harris-Perry on the necessity of VAWA, proven to reduce domestic violence (by 67%), and the necessity of including LGBT and other minorities in the language of this bill:
To understand this issue and the LGBT community's relationship to it, I interviewed Liz Roberts and Carolyn Strudwick, both of whom are working in different capacities on behalf of VAWA. Roberts is the Chief Program Officer at Safe Horizon, the nation’s largest victim service provider, serving all five boroughs of New York City. As a lesbian mom from Brooklyn who has worked in the movement to end domestic violence since 1983, she is passionate about ending the silence, denial and exclusion that LGBT victims of intimate partner violence continue to face. Strudwick is the Associate Vice President for Homeless Youth and Anti-Trafficking programs at Safe Horizon. She leads the Streetwork project, an innovative, program for homeless youth in New York City serving a population that is 40% LGBT.
VAWA is known as a women's issue, but why is it a LGBT issue?
Liz Roberts (LR): At the beginning of the movements to end domestic violence and sexual assault, the public focus was on violence against women committed by men, and there was a lot of education done on the role of patriarchal family structures in perpetuating violence. Unfortunately, this created a perception that intimate partner violence and sexual assault didn’t occur in LGBT communities/relationships. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we know now that intimate partner violence is just as common in queer relationships, and that homophobia and transphobia contribute to high rates of sexual victimization for our communities.
The constitutive segments of the collective LGBT movement have diverse interests. How would you convince gay men to become invested in advocating for its passage?
Carolyn Strudwick (CS): Most gay men probably know someone who has experienced intimate partner violence in a same