Ohio's FRI Submits Brief in Support of Abusive Boyfriend

We've reported before that lawyers representing abusers are using Ohio's civil unions and marriage ban to claim their clients can't be prosecuted under domestic violence laws. Such laws, they say, can apply only to married couples.

So far a couple of these have convinced two mid-level courts to side with them. Another is appealing a decision against him all the way to Ohio's Supreme Court.

When we talk about Ohio in order to point out potential far-reaching effects of the Wisconsin ban, supporters claim that we're engaging in "nothing more than a scare tactic." But, of course, they, like us, have no idea how courts will rule.

All anyone can know in advance is that this ban does in fact threaten domestic violence protections, and that is why the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the Milwauke Commission on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault oppose it.

Now we have more evidence, not only that these amendments will have far-reaching consequences, but also that they were in fact intended to have these consequences.

Ohio's version of the Family Research Institute, Citizens for Community Values (CCV), recently filed a friend-of-the court brief in the case supporting an abusive boyfriend. "CCV's strong interest in this case," they write, "is to ensure that the plain and unambiguous text of the Marriage Amendment is properly applied by this Court." In other words, not only does the ban invalidate domestic violence protections for unmarried couples, it does so plainly and unambiguously.

The brief isn't online, and mention of it appears nowhere on CCV's website. But it's an incredibly useful document. It gives us a good forecast of exactly how lawyers and groups like the Family Research Institute will use the Wisconsin ban if it passes.

CCV writes: "The focus of the second sentence of the Marriage Amendment is not on the benefits or obligations assigned to those in the relationship which is given a legal status--it is on the status itself" (emphasis in original).

Translation: it doesn't matter what benefits go into a recognition of gay families; what's unconstitutional is the recognition, period. And then, just in case there's any misunderstanding, they go on to say that the ban "proscribes the very legal recognition of the relationships in the first place, for any purpose" (and again, that's their emphasis).

Our ban shares a lot of language with Ohio's, especially that about "legal status" and recognition. Like theirs, the ban here seeks to prevent any public recognition of gay families--no matter what--"the status itself," "the very legal recognition of the relationships."

Voters in Wisconsin should make no mistake: the ban we're facing is far-reaching, and our opponents wanted it that way.

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At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly. Julaine and Co. knew exactly what they were doing with the ban language. It's breathtaking just how sweeping the ban in fact is.

At 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty terrifying.

It's also significant, I think, that the CCV doesn't mention it on its website. I bet if the public knew more about what FRI is publicly and privately backing, they (and the amendment) would have far less support.

At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Marius said...

I thought you'd find this interesting...


At 9:55 PM, Anonymous Stephanie said...


That URL is way too long. Even with my wide screen I can't see to the end of it and therefore can't copy and paste it into the browser.

If you want anyone to read the story, you will have to repackage the URL into an address tag.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Jenn said...

This link may be easier to work with. Thanks to Marius for sending it along.


At 10:19 AM, Blogger Jay said...

Marius's Link:
Gay Couple Not Entitled To Benefits Judge Rules
Here's the link to the story.

I'll add this link to an amazing column about one church's response to Ohio's amendment in 2004. It's written by Pulitzer Prize winner Connie Schultz in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. I recently read all of her beautiful, prize-winning columns. She is the wife of US Representative Sherrod Brown (D-OH13) who is running for Senator against Mike DeWine in a hotly contested race this Fall.

I have no connection to the candidate or campaign, just think it's a great story between Connie and Sherrod.

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Marius said...

I'm sorry about the link, I didn't realise that. I only just saw it as I returned to the blog... Sorry. :P

And thanks for getting it right and sorted out. :D

Good luck with your campaign, I'll be rooting for you here in SA!

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Communitygal said...

Back to the Ohio train wreck, this is incredibly telling, and serious. As I've noted in earlier posts, there are two ways to view a relationship "substantially similar to marriage": either by the bundle of benefits you get--think civil unions--OR, as the Ohio group argues, by the characteristics of the relationship between the two people: over 18, competent to contract, not closely related by blood or marriage, not already married, financially and emotionally interdependent. If the latter definition is accepted, as Ms. Appling's cohorts wish, virtually every existing legal arrangement between unmarried partners could be nullified: domestic partner benefits, coparenting agreements, cohabitation agreements, wills, health care powers of attorney, financial powers of attorney, guardianships, etc. etc.

Do not take this lightly. There are people who would do everything they can to make non-marital relationships a legal nullity, based on the false belief that if we cannot protect our relationships, we will cease to exist. Some of those people are judges.


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