In a recent Office of Legal Counsel opinion, the Department of Justice clarified that the criminal provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) apply with equal force in cases when the victim and perpetrator are of the same sex. The Department is working to ensure that all U.S. Attorney offices are aware of the law’s applicability to LGBT relationships.

The Department has also provided notice of the opinion to the U.S. Attorney offices. This confirms that Department of Justice prosecutors have access to all available tools to protect victims of domestic violence and stalking whether they be in same sex or opposite sex relationships. This does not represent a change in the law, nor will it narrow or otherwise impact VAWA’s existing criminal applications. Rather, it clarifies to the extent that there was any doubt that VAWA is inclusive and protective of women and men, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The opinion can be read here: http://www.justice.gov/olc/2010/vawa-opinion-04272010.pdf