Quigley’s move to protect LGBT domestic violence victims fails

An amendment to include LGBT victims of domestic violence under federal protection laws fell short of the majority of votes needed for passage at a key U.S. House committee Tuesday.

The effort, led by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), would have included “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the language of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill, which funds abuse protection and prevention programs at about $660 million annually nationwide.

“Domestic violence can affect anyone, and everyone deserves to be protected,” Quigley said in a speech before the vote.

Unlike the Senate version of the bill, which passed last month with the support of 15 Republicans, the House measure passed with only Republican support and does not expand protections to the LGBT, immigrants and American Indians.

According to Quigley, experts and service providers have gathered data and determined that certain groups are not being “adequately protected” under current law.

“Specifically, hundreds of service providers, law enforcement officers and advocates from around the country have informed us that greater protections are needed for immigrants, tribal members and LGBT victims,” Quigley said.

Quigley mentioned the story of a transgender woman who moved in with her boyfriend and soon started to suffer physical abuse. After being sent to a hospital and referred to a domestic violence program, the victim was denied services based on her gender.

Their reasoning was fighting between two men wasn’t considered domestic violence, said the congressman. “Discrimination is real.”

Another two LGBT-inclusive amendments were voted down by the Republican-controlled panel.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) proposed that domestic violence programs receiving federal funds could not discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

A third measure, offered by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), would have included the LGBT community in the programs aimed to address domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.

LGBT victims of domestic violence face discrimination when seeking help from authorities and shelters, according to a 2010 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

Only 55 percent of LGBT people were admitted at shelters after suffering abuse, numbers from report show. Less than half, or 45 percent, of those seeking an order of protection from authorities received help.