Ohio voters who approved a constitutional amendment last fall that denied legal recognition of unmarried and gay couples probably didn't envision the measure being successfully used as a defense in domestic violence cases.
But now Ohio Judge Stuart Friedman has held that part of the domestic violence law is unconstitutional under that amendment, and that the domestic violence law cannot be applied to unmarried people. The voter initiative, known as "Issue 1," added the following to Ohio's constitution:
Article XV Section 11. Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.
Judge Friedman found this amendment directly contradictory to part of the domestic violence law:
Friedman said that because Ohio's domestic violence law recognizes the relationship between an unmarried offender and victim as one "approximating the significance or effect of marriage," it represents a direct conflict with the amendment's prohibition against such recognition and is thus unenforceable.
In the case involving Frederick Burk of Cleveland, who was arrested in February on a charge of domestic violence against a woman [not his wife], Friedman reduced that charge (a fourth-degree felony with a possible prison term of six to 12 months) to simple assault (a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum six-month jail term).
That's going to make Judge Friedman a very unpopular man. But perhaps this result is well deserved by those Ohio voters who chose to amend their state's constitution to intentionally discriminate against same-sex couples. (article via How Appealing)