Kirsten Andersen

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USCCB revokes longtime support for Violence Against Women Act due to controversial changes

Kirsten Andersen

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 12, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement last week revoking their longstanding support of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in light of changes to the 2013 reauthorization passed by Congress and signed by President Obama on March 7.  The changes added language concerning homosexuality and ‘gender identity’ and denied conscience protections to faith-based groups that serve women overseas.

The VAWA, first passed in 1994, was originally intended to offer increased protection and assistance to female victims of rape, domestic violence, stalking and other predominately male-on-female crimes.  Over the past 19 years, the scope of the legislation has grown to encompass victims of both sexes, provided the crimes match those covered by the law.

Now, however, homosexual activists have successfully pushed for inclusion of same-sex couples and ‘transgender’ people in special categories of protection. 

Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, and Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles wrote a statement objecting to the provisions, saying they are “unnecessary.”

“All persons must be protected from violence, but codifying the classifications ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ as contained in S. 47 is problematic,” wrote the bishops.

“These two classifications are unnecessary to establish the just protections due to all persons. They undermine the meaning and importance of sexual difference. They are unjustly exploited for purposes of marriage redefinition, and marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman with each other and with any children born from their union.”

Also of concern to the bishops was the adding-on of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, another bill that they had previously supported but were forced to back away from in light of objectionable government action. 

In 2011, the Obama administration cut off funding to U.S. bishops’ group that works with trafficking victims, many of whom were forced into sex slavery.  The administration instead chose to divert funding to groups that, according to Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services, would provide a “full range of women’s health services,” including abortion and contraception.  The Catholic Church opposes both.

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“Conscience protections are needed in this legislation to ensure that these service providers are not required to violate their bona fide religious beliefs as a condition for serving the needy,” said the bishops.  “Absent those protections, S. 47 fails to prevent discrimination against faith-based providers of care,” they added.

Concluded the bishops: “The USCCB firmly believes in protecting the well-being and safety of all people from violence, especially from violence in the home. Indeed, the legislation passed by Congress contains several commendable provisions which strengthen protections against domestic violence and human trafficking.”

“However, because of our other concerns with the bill, we were unable to support the overall legislation. Now that Congress has acted to change the law, we urge future action to revisit these concerns in the months ahead.”

Read the bishops’ entire statement here.

Read the legislation here.

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