Ohio judge doesn’t believe in same-sex domestic violence

According to the Columbus Dispatch, some cases of domestic violence between same-sex couples are being ignored based on Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage.  One of these instances is the case James DeHaven.  In 2003, he sought a protection order against a live-in boyfriend after an argument turned violent.

He told the judge that his relationship with his boyfriend should qualify under the “person living as a spouse” section of Ohio’s domestic-violence law, making him eligible for a protection order. The judge wasn’t so sure.

“Doesn’t that mean we recognize same-sex marriage?” Judge Paul Spurgeon asked.

“I don’t think so, your honor,” said then-Assistant City Law Director Heidi Mallory.

“Motion denied,” Spurgeon said.

In 2005, Veronica Shields was attacked and burned with a cigarette by her live-in girlfriend.  She also came before Judge Spurgeon.  She was told, “After reviewing the definition for family or household member provided … I don’t believe, Miss Shields, you are entitled to a temporary protection order. Therefore, your motion is denied,”

In the state of Ohio, domestic violence is defined as threatening or causing physical harm to a “family or household member.”  This includes a spouse, a person living as a spouse, or former spouse.  A “person living as a spouse” is defined as “a person who is living or has lived with the offender in a common law marital relationship, who otherwise is cohabiting with the offender, or who otherwise has cohabited with the offender within five years prior to the date of the alleged commission of the act in question.”

Judge Spurgeon, who was reelected this year, pointed to Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage as the reasoning behind his ruling.  With these two rulings setting precedence, it allows other judges to throw out domestic violence charges in same-sex couples as well.

According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. the total reported cases of gay and lesbian domestic violence in the U.S. increased last year to about 5,000 from nearly 3,400 in 2008, an increase of almost 50 percent.

Nancy Neylon, the executive director of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network said that they are working to increase support for the LGBT community, including a new initiative to train local domestic violence programs to deal with LGBT issues.


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