As International Women’s Day was marked around the globe on Sunday, March 8, activists gathered in Battery Park, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, to demand that the US Senate take a vote on reauthorization of the Violence Against Women’s Act.
A corps of Human Being activists affiliated with Gays Against Guns was on hand to bring attention to women who had died from gun violence. Among the gun victims the Human Beings commemorated were Dr. Tamara O’Neal, an emergency room physician at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital, a volunteer with at-risk youth, and the leader of her church choir, who was gunned down in November 2018 in the hospital parking lot by her ex-fiancée; and Deirdre Alia Zaccardi and her children Alexis, Kathryn, and Nathaniel, who were shot dead in their Abington, Massachusetts, home in October 2019 by Zaccardi’s husband, who then turned the gun on himself.
The Violence Against Women Act was first passed in 1994, under the bipartisan leadership of Delaware Democratic Senator Joe Biden and Utah Republican Orrin Hatch. It has been reauthorized several times, but over the years conservative opposition grew, because it was extended to protect partners in same-sex relationships and it allowed battered undocumented immigrants to receive temporary visas to ensure their safety.
The law’s most recent reauthorization expired last February, and though the House of Representatives agreed to its extension in a vote last April, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has, to date, blocked any vote in his GOP-led chamber.