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Home | Blogs | JoeU's blog

VAWA Fate Still in Play

The fate of VAWA is up in the air.

The Senate passed its own version and the House a different one.

The House version (4970) has something of an upper hand because VAWA is a money/funding bill which has to by law originate in the House , not the Senate. The law is is now expected to go to a Conference Committee which can in this case make, or not, further changes. (Information on conference committee here: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/enactment/confcomm.html, the last paragraph is the most relevant.)

VAWA funds a range of services in states nationwide to combat ‘domestic violence’ but definition of the term is so loosely defined that nearly every normal negative human interaction can fit under it. This has resulted in funding state laws to combat otherwise benign acts such as ‘annoying’ (New Hampshire RSA 173-B:1 ‘harassment under RSA 644:4) and ‘touching’ (Alabama, Chap. 30-5-2 Sec. 1-e. ‘harassment’ under 13A-11-8) another person. The examples hold true in nearly every state.

Expansive catch-all state definitions of ‘domestic violence’ routinely fly in the face of the supposed VAWA goals.to prevent violence. Given that VAWA is targeted at individuals in close personal family relationships, not strangers on the street, it is impossible for natural behaviors such as being touched, or 'annoyed', not to occur. Allowing them under VAWA unjustly ensnares millions of law abiding citizens in the court system.

VAWA's underlying sexist ideology pre-determines that men and fathers are the main victims.

In Massachusetts, some 25-50,000 protective orders are issued annually. Of these, one former judge, now state legislator, has said up to 95% of the application orders are without merit.

The Fatherhood Coalition suggested to Rep. Adams (R-Fl), sponsor of HR 4970, that VAWA's open ended definition of 'domestic violence' (essentially whenever one person takes exception to another) be more clearly defined by using Florida's definition of "Domestic Violence" in Statute. 741.28 (2):

'Domestic Violence' is the “ felony or misdemeanor crimes of assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family.

and also suggested changes regarding the issuance of RO's:

‘(A) any injunction, restraining order, or any other order issued by a civil or criminal court for the purpose of preventing domestic violence as defined under this act..'

These changes are intended to encourage states to remove many, if not all, frivolous statutes under which RO's are issued. If states don't make the changes they would not receive federal money.

 Conference members, Senate and House, should be contacted once they are announced.

The ball is now in the Senate court to respond to the House. Please watch for or post further updates.