The Obama administration announced yesterday that it would consider vetoing two bills put forth by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, both of which contain anti-gay provisions. In its one Statement of Administration Policy, the White House outlined numerous reasons it opposes the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which contains a military “license to bully” provision and restricts same-sex marriages or similar ceremonies from being held on military bases. The other Statement of Administration Policy addressed the Violence Against Women Act, from which House Republicans stripped all protections for minority groups:
H.R. 4970 retreats from this forward progress by failing to include several critical provisions that are part of the Senate-passed VAWA reauthorization bill. For instance, H.R. 4970 fails to provide for concurrent special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction by tribal authorities over non-Indians, and omits clarification of tribal courts’ full civil jurisdiction regarding certain protection orders over non-Indians. Given that three out of five Native American women experience domestic violence in their lifetime, these omissions in H.R. 4970 are unacceptable.
The bill also fails to include language that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT victims in VAWA grant programs. No sexual assault or domestic violence victim should be beaten, hurt, or killed because they could not access needed support, assistance, and protection. In addition, H.R. 4970 does not include important improvements to the Clery Act found in the Senate-passed bill that would address the high rates of dating violence and sexual assault experienced by young people in college and other higher education institutions. The bill also weakens critical new provisions in the Senate-passed bill that would improve safety for victims living in subsidized housing.
Last year, anti-gay provisions that House Republicans had added to the defense budget were dropped in conference. Hopefully VAWA can achieve similar agreement this year.