MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) - President Barack Obama signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act into law Thursday extending and expanding protections for victims of domestic violence.
The updated legislation now covers gay, lesbian and immigrant victims, giving them access to the law's support programs. It also extends to Native Americans who are victimized on tribal lands by non-tribal suspects.
With Vice President Joe Biden, who wrote the original bill in 1994, at his side, Obama called the law a victory, especially for the survivors who flanked him at a news conference in the Interior Department.
While the moment happened a thousand miles away, victims rights advocates in Mobile said the law has immediate impacts along the Gulf Coast. "It funds the domestic violence shelters and funds the prosecution of perpetrators to hold them accountable," Executive Director of the Penelope House told Local 15 at a fundraising event Thursday night to support the family violence shelter, "When you see the President who's willing to step forward and sign a bill that protects victims of crime and of violence, it's sending a message again not only to victims but perpetrators that this is not acceptable."
House Republicans opposed those expansions when the Senate included them in a bill last year, according to the Associated Press, but after performing poorly among women voters in the fall election, GOP leaders capitulated in February and allowed a vote on a similar version.
It passed even though most Republicans voted against it.
Of the 9 Alabama lawmakers in Washington, only 3 voted for the measure including Rep. Teri Sewell (D-District 7), Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-District 6) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R).
The other lawmakers, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R), Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-District 4), Rep. Jo Bonner (R-District 1), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-District 5) , Rep. Mike Rogers (R-District 3), Rep. Martha Roby (R-District 2) all voted against the new law.