An expanded Violence Against Women Act won bipartisan approval on Thursday from the U.S. House after Republicans failed to pass their own proposal.
The measure now goes to President Barack Obama. If he signs the bill into law, it could allot up to $660 million every year for the next five years to help stop domestic violence.
Local Congressman Raul Ruiz voted in favor of the bill. He reiterated his vote in Palm Desert on Friday. "The promise that no woman should have to suffer domestic violence in silence," said Ruiz.
Ruiz joined city leaders, police officers and others who fight against domestic violence at the "Shelter from the Storm" to show a unified front. "We have reasonable people from across the aisle that are in support that making sure all women, are going to be protected and that we have the resources to hold the perpetrators of violence accountable," said Ruiz.
The new law creates and expands federal programs to assist local communities and law enforcement to stop domestic violence. "This is an opportunity for women and children who are victims of domestic violence to have a voice that haven't had a voice in a while," said Angelina Coe, the executive director of Shelter for the Storm.
The bill goes further by offering protections for gay, bisexual or transgender victims of domestic abuse. "We are people just like everyone else, we are women just like everyone else," said Melinda Tramaglio, the president of the Palm Springs National Organization of Women. "Just because we're gay does not mean we are the victims of violence.
The bill also protects American Indian women who are assaulted on reservation by non-Indians to take their case to tribal courts, which otherwise would not have jurisdiction over assailants who do not live on tribal land. "It removes that barrier and allows the tribes to further secure and protect their women, children and community," said John Gomez from the Ramonda band of Cahuilla Indians.
The bill also helps protect undocumented immigrants. If it passes, it will help send a message about domestic violence. "With this bill, with leadership throughout this community, our desert, that you better think twice before you raise your hand against a woman," said Ruiz.
For more information on the 'Violence Against Women Act", click here.