USA Today reports that at least 80 defendants charged with domestic abuse in Ohio are asserting that Ohio’s domestic violence law is unconstitutional. Their argument is that, in its fight against gay people, Ohio’s ban on gay marriage has inadvertently rendered all of its laws regarding domestic partners unconstitutional.
Ohio’s anti-gay amendment eliminated the status of domestic partnership for all couples regardless of their orientation. Criminal defense attorneys say Ohio’s domestic violence law applies only to domestic partners, a status which no longer exists in the state; their clients cannot be convicted of domestic violence because they’re not married. Defense attorney Thomas Eagle asserted the amendment says “the state is not allowed to treat unmarried people as if they are married.” Phil Barnes of the Citizens for Community Values said “we’re more concerned how the court will interpret the law.” Is it more important to protect the community from gay couples than violence in a relationship?
Thus far two of the state’s appeals courts have agreed that the domestic violence laws are unconstitutional. Ten have found the laws to be legal.