DOJ Interprets Federal Domestic Violence Law To Protect Same Sex Couples
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – praised the Department of Justice for issuing a legal opinion that clarifies that criminal provisions of the Violence Against Women Act cover crimes against victims of same-sex domestic violence. The memorandum, which was produced by the Office of Legal Counsel, provides that criminal provisions related to domestic violence, stalking and protection order violations apply to conduct when the offender and victim are the same sex.
“Today’s memorandum by the Department of Justice is one step forward in ensuring that LGBT people are protected by our federal domestic violence laws,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Some of our families, like all Americans, experience domestic violence and those impacted by such violence should enjoy equal protections, and equal dignity, when they seek assistance from law enforcement. We thank the Department of Justice for releasing this important interpretation.”
According to a 2010 report by the National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, intimate partner violence occurs in the relationships of LGBT people at about the same rate as in heterosexual relationships. In these situations, it is important that LGBT victims are afforded the same protections from violence as all other Americans.
HRC provided the Department of Justice with a recommendation to clarify that the criminal provisions of the Violence Against Women Act should apply in instances where both the offender and the victim are of the same sex in its Blueprint for Positive Change, a series of policy recommendations provided to the Obama administration. In addition, HRC is currently working with a coalition of advocacy groups to draft statutory language that would ensure that LGBT victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking would be explicitly included in future legislative updates to the Violence Against Women Act.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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