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Senate Introduces LGBT-Inclusive Domestic Violence Act

By Michelle Garcia

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote to reauthorize an LGBT-inclusive version of the Violence Against Women Act, which provides help and resources for victims of domestic violence.

The bipartisan bill, which has 61 cosponsors, was introduced two weeks ago by senators Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, and Michael Crapo, and Republican from Idaho. On Monday it was pushed forward for a full vote.

This version of the law would include sexual orientation and gender identity after vigilant lobbying from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Currently 96% of law enforcement agencies have no specific services for LGBT people when dealing with domestic violence. LGBT survivors of violence do face discrimination: 45% are turned away from shelters, and 55% are denied orders of protection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lesbians and bisexual men and women largely report higher numbers of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner than heterosexual men and women. Gay men's rates (26%) are slightly lower than heterosexual men's (29%).

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