This is very good exposure of the impact of Marshall/Newman on domestic violence law enforcement. In the context of the domestic violence professionals and elected officials cited, it’s painfully obvious that the pro-amendment ideologue interviewed for this article doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about. Ouch.
New concern in marriage amendment debate
September 19, 2006
By Joe Kendall and Eileen Carlton
“The wording of the amendment bans relationships that resemble marriage,” said Stacy Ruble of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Action Alliance. “Domestic violence laws in Virginia cover both married and unmarried couples so long as they are living together and have lived together in the past 12 months or have a child in common. Essentially, the current laws provide a legal status to unmarried couples that is the same as married couples.”
Helpfully, Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman makes this clarification: “The violence in a situation where the couple is not considered married is still considered an assault, just not a domestic assault.” [Emphasis mine.] Plowman is referring here to same sex couples, who are not eligible for any of the provisions available through the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, such as mandatory arrest for the perpetrator, protective orders, and collaborative safety planning. Currently, unmarried heterosexual couples who live or have lived in a domestic, marriage-like relationship are “considered married” for the purposes of this law. That classification is a “legal status.”
Sue Curtis, executive director of Loudoun Citizens for Social Justice/LAWS (Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter), said she’s most concerned with individuals that have used divorce to escape an abusive situation.
“From a Loudoun perspective, I’m especially concerned for women who get divorced, who are now out of abusive relationships, but have children and must continue for a long number of years to have contact with the abusive person. It is at this time that many women become victims of violence and death because this [abusive] person no longer has access to abuse them,” Curtis said. “In the case of women and men who were married but are now divorced, the victim would no longer be able to apply for a protective order.”
Some commenters on this blog have asserted that women who “want the benefits of marriage” (presumably referring to protection from abusive husbands) should just “get married.” The logic of that argument is honestly so off the wall that it hasn’t seemed worth debating. I admit that it hadn’t occurred to me that a woman who divorced her abuser would also be divorcing her right to protection under our domestic violence law. I think it’s safe to assume that those who so carefully crafted the amendment language are also ideologically opposed to divorce.
There is a fresh outrage every day with this idiotic amendment.