Pres. Obama signed into law the Violence Against Women Act to a cheering crowd of Jewish, Native American, immigrant and LGBT women gathered at the Department of Interior March 7.
Amid flashes from cameras from IPads and smart phones, Obama declared he was signing the more-inclusive VAWA “because this is a country where everybody should be able to pursue their own measure of happiness and live their lives free from fear, no matter who you are, no matter who you love. That’s got to be our priority. That’s what today is all about.”
I’ve written a few stories about VAWA and jumped at the opportunity to be there for the signing. While VAWA isn’t specifically a Jewish issue, I am proud to say that so many Jewish groups took up the cause in support of all women.
Jewish groups proudly called for protection to be extended to Native Americans, undocumented immigrants afraid to call police for help and members of the LGBT community. They stood strong for more education on domestic abuse to young women on college campuses.
While some worried how much it would cost to help abused women rise above their situations or what if a man was wrongfully accused of abuse while on tribal lands, a bipartisan Congress did the right thing and approved a stronger VAWA.
And like he promised in his State of the Union Address, Obama signed it into law.
Biden, who authored the original VAWA back in 1994, told the enthusiastic audience he considered the law’s renewal necessary due to “a sacred commitment to protect our mothers, our daughters our sisters.”
Referring to all the women who have called domestic abuse hotlines, which were instituted thanks to the original VAWA, Biden said, “I love those men who would say when we started this about why don’t they just leave. Well, if they had one-third the courage that those women – those two million women had who have picked up the phone and called, not knowing what to expect, it would be a whole lot better nation.”
Obama ended the short, but very emotional afternoon, by declaring, “So I promise you, not just as your President, but as a son, and a husband and a father, I’m going to keep at this.”