The United States Senate last week approved legislation that would recognize domestic violence in the LGBT community and apply the same rules to it as those governing domestic abuse among traditional couples. The legislation is a step toward bolstering the protections of victims of domestic violence and preventing it from happening.

Named the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, the bill is an update to the initial law first passed in 1994. It was approved on a 10-8 party line vote. Domestic violence experts note that the bill will set aside grant money to fund programs supporting victims of sexual assault crimes, and it will provide better training to police and other officials to help them identify potential high-risk offenders.

The bill will also provide grant funding to programs supporting victims of domestic violence in the LGBT community, and it prohibits the original act from allowing its grant recipients to discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

The president of the organization Human Rights Campaign thanked the committee members for approving the legislation, but he also criticized opposing voters -- all of them Republicans -- who voted against the bill for presumably anti-LGBT reasons.

Critics of the bill said it attempted to provide too many protections to too many people and was not a feasible approach to combating domestic violence. But some members of Congress said they could not support the bill because of the LGBT protections included in the legislation.

Source: Washington Blade, "Senate panel approves LGBT-inclusive domestic violence bill" Chris Johnson, Feb. 2, 2012