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Ohio's domestic abuse laws deep-sixed by marriage amendment

The Buckeye State’s heinous marriage amendment, gay activists warned, would jeopardize the ability of prosecutors to effectively enforce the domestic violence laws on the books.

On Friday, the 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that state amendment leaves all unmarried people, straight or gay, ineligible for protection under the law in domestic abuse cases.

Each and every state that has passed one of these anti-gay amendments is, in fact, penalizing anyone in a partnered relationship who is a victim of domestic violence that isn’t legally married. (Ohio News Network):

Friday’s decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeals is the first from Ohio’s 12 appellate courts to rule that the Defense of Marriage amendment, passed by voters in 2004, means that the domestic violence law does not apply to unmarried people.

The appeals court upheld the dismissal of a domestic violence charge against Karen Ward of Fairborn, charged with assaulting her live-in boyfriend in Greene County.

Ohio’s amendment defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman and barred the state from granting legal status to unmarried couples.

…”Until the high court decides, unmarried defendants, who would have faced felony domestic violence charges, will be charged with misdemeanor assault charges in Greene County,” Schmidt said.

And up on deck: amendment battles are going to be on the ballot in Alabama, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Folks in these states need to be prepared to discuss their respective amendments and what the unintended consequences will be if bigotry rules over common sense.

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On the marriage recognition front, cases are making their way through the state courts that may pave the way for legal same sex marriage, using the strategy of comparing these cases to the challenge of state bans on interracial marriage.

David Buckel of Lambda Legal says the lawsuits are focused on states where public attitudes toward same-sex unions seem particularly friendly and where amending the state constitution to counter any ruling for same-sex marriage would be difficult.

Such lawsuits are awaiting rulings by the top state courts in Washington state and New Jersey. Similar lawsuits are making their way through state courts in California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland and New York. The lawsuits generally claim that the states’ constitutions allow gay couples to marry on the same terms as heterosexuals.

Obviously , the big question is, are these cases, if they are decided in favor of same-sex marriage, going to be fuel for the Republican fire, energizing the base once more with the “gay boogeyman” as motivation to get sheeple to the polls. Only time will tell.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding