U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden laugh together during a meeting of the National Governors Association at the White House in Washington February 23, 2009.    REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  
President Barack Obama signed the recently passed version of the Violence Against Women Act Thursday, a week after Speaker John Boehner finally allowed the House to vote on the bipartisan bill. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden spoke to a crowd of legislators, activists, law enforcement, and advocates, highlighting the accomplishments of the Violence Against Women Act over 19 years and its continuing relevance.

Speaking before the president, Biden, one of the law's original sponsors in 1994, both recalled the fight to get the original law passed, recognizing many of the participants in that fight and in the one to get the reauthorization passed this year, and tied violence against women to an issue much discussed today, saying, "From 2009 to 2012, 40 percent of the mass shootings in America, other than the celebrated ones you’ve seen—40 percent where there’s four or more people who have been shot, the target has been a former intimate partner or a close family member." Obama, too, cited gun violence, mentioning both legislation in Congress now and the recent shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton weeks after she marched in the inauguration parade.

"One of the great legacies of this law is that it didn’t just change the rules," Obama continued:

[I]t changed our culture. It empowered people to start speaking out.  It made it okay for us, as a society, to talk about domestic abuse. It made it possible for us, as a country, to address the problem in a real and meaningful way. And it made clear to victims that they were not alone—that they always had a place to go and they always had people on their side.  
That this reauthorization took so long is entirely at the feet of House Republican leadership for refusing to allow a vote on the Senate's bipartisan bill in 2012 and then doing a little more foot-dragging in 2013. But it is done. That just means, though, that it's time to press on to the next step forward. Having increased protections and services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault is necessary, but we can do more. Women need the Paycheck Fairness Act so we can more effectively fight pay discrimination. For that matter, we need the Equal Rights Amendment, so we can more effectively fight every kind of discrimination.

Let's keep moving forward. Tell Congress to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 01:22 PM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Daily Kos.

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