In November, Ohioians passed a Constitutional Amendment denying legal status to unmarried couples. The previous Ohio statute already had defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The new amendment added this language, which forbids any state or local law that would:
create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design...of marriage."
Batterers are using this as a defense against domestic violence laws.
In at least two cases last week, the Cuyahoga County public defender's office has asked a judge to dismiss domestic violence charges against unmarried defendants, arguing that the charges violate the amendment by affording marriagelike legal status to unmarried victims who live with the people accused of attacking them.
Advocates for victims of domestic violence...fear defense attorneys across the state will copy the tactic used in Cuyahoga County..."we're very worried that some victims will not be granted the protection they need because they're not married. That could jeopardize people's lives."
" The thing is, you can only get a domestic violence charge now if you are a wife-beater, not a girlfriend beater..."
Some legal scholars argue that if a judge were to agree with the public defender's ruling, a court could declare the amendment in violation of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law.
Of course, it has always been about equal protection, but I am not so optimistic that I think some battered or murdered women will help us see the error of this law. Back when it was being discussed, AARP said that it would impact older, unmarried couples in terms of pensions and survivor's rights, no suits yet on this, but I wonder how long it will take the 65% of the people who voted for this to realize that it affects them or someone they know.
This is courtesy of the