There is evidence that a number of domestic violence programs have engaged in discriminatory practices.1,2 Federal laws bar such practices:
Violence Against Women Act
The 2005 reauthorization of VAWA added a provision noting, “Nothing in this title shall be construed to prohibit male victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking from receiving benefits and services under this title.” (VAWA Section 40002(b)(8). http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ162.109.pdf)
Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act
Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 Section 3789d. (c)(1) applies to grants funded by the Department of Justice. The law states, “No person in any State shall on the ground of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under or denied employment in connection with any programs or activity funded in whole or in part with funds made available under this chapter.” The penalties for violating these requirements are described in Section 3789d. (c)(2). http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/split/42usc3789d.htm
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 applies to grants funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. According to the HHS Grants Policy Statement, January 1, 2007, Section II-8, “Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681, 1682, 1683, 1685, and 1686, provides that no person in the United States will, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination against any person because of sex in the provision of services or facilities of any dwelling. The FHA further bans the printing or publishing of any statement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any discrimination based on sex. Courts have found the Fair Housing Act applies to homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters. 42 U.S.C.A. § 3602, § 3604(b) and § 3604 (c) (West 2009) (citing Villegas v. Sandy Farms, Inc., 929 F. Supp. 1305 (D. Or. 1996)).
In addition, a 2010 DoJ Legal Advisory addressed whether VAWA protections apply to same-sex couples:
Whether the Criminal Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act Apply to Otherwise Covered Conduct When the Offender and Victim are the Same Sex
“The text, relevant case law, and legislative history all support the conclusion that VAWA’s three criminal provisions, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2261, 2261A, and 2262, apply to otherwise covered conduct when the offender and victim are the same sex. And the views we have received reach the same conclusion. Thus, for the reasons set forth above, we conclude that each of these provisions apply when the offender and the victim are the same sex.” (http://www.justice.gov/olc/2010/vawa-opinion-04272010.pdf )
(1) Stop Abusive and Violent Environments. Domestic Violence Programs Discriminate Against Male Victims. Rockville, MD. 2010.
(2) National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Why it Matters. 2010.
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