OH Court Overturns Domestic Violence Charges for Some Unmarried People

Legal confusion continues in Ohio due to that state's constitutional ban on civil unions and marriage. The measure was approved by voters in November 2004.

On Friday, a state appeals court invalidated domestic violence charges for unmarried people. The issue will likely have to be decided by the Ohio Supreme Court. Meanwhile, some unmarried people will go without domestic violence charges in certain Ohio counties.

The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence has spoken out against the civil unions and marriage ban here. They are concerned it will undo years of their work to protect people who experience domestic violence. From a November Capital Times story:
In written testimony submitted to the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees, the coalition said the proposed amendment could have broad implications for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

"Aggressive defense lawyers will surely argue that domestic abuse restraining orders--an essential measure of protection for many victims of domestic and sexual violence in Wisconsin--do not apply to non-married couples under" the proposed ban's 'substantially similar' language.
From the same article:

Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard said such cases concern him.

"The majority of our domestic violence cases do not involve married persons," he said. "The majority involve people who are living together, are dating or have children in common."

"We have a huge amount of law enforcement training and prosecution resources now devoted to the problem of domestic violence and they're structured around statutes that do define relationships outside of marriage," Blanchard added.

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