Anti-Gay Group Attacks Domestic Violence Law in Court


Contact: Drew Courtney or Josh Glasstetter at People For the American Way Foundation

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

How far will right-wingers take their campaign for “traditional marriage”? For one ultraconservative group, all the way into a courtroom to argue that Ohio’s domestic violence law—which covers all couples, married or not—can’t be applied to unmarried heterosexual couples because of the state’s new constitutional provision prohibiting the recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples and prohibiting the recognition of “a legal status” for any unmarried couples “that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.”

In an ugly development that has so far received little national attention, Citizens for Community Values (CCV) recently filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Ohio Supreme Court in support of a man accused of assaulting his girlfriend, with whom he resides. The man is being prosecuted under Ohio’s domestic violence law, which makes it a crime for someone to cause physical harm to a person who is “a spouse, a person living as a spouse, or a former spouse of the offender.”

CCV was the primary group urging adoption of Ohio’s 2004 anti-gay constitutional amendment. At the time, legal scholars warned that the amendment could have far reaching implications for all unmarried couples—gay or not—including the possibility that domestic violence legislation could be overturned.

Now, Citizens for Community Values is trying to do just that. Their brief contends that the domestic violence law creates and recognizes a “legal status” for “marriage-mimicking relationships” that is prohibited by the new constitutional amendment, and that the man therefore cannot be prosecuted under that law for attacking his girlfriend.

People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas issued the following statement.

“It’s not surprising that this group would push to deny legal protections to unmarried couples, but it’s striking that they would choose to do so in a case involving such an abhorrent crime as domestic abuse.

“This case confirms every worry we had about the amendment. It is a reminder that, in their rush to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples, right wing activists pushed destructive measures that have broad reaching consequences for all families. All families, gay and straight, deserve full protection under the law.”

To read the brief filed by CCV, click here.