Thursday, July 26, 2007
From the Columbus, Ohio AP:
Ohio's domestic violence laws do not conflict with the state's ban on gay marriage, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled today.
In a 6-1 decision, justices rejected the argument that the domestic violence law is unenforceable in cases involving unmarried couples because it refers to them as living together "as a spouse."
Chief Justice Thomas Moyer said in the opinion that lawmakers included many groups under the domestic violence law, not just unwed couples, and that describing people's living arrangements isn't the same as creating a law approximating marriage. The ban prohibited the government from creating any such approximation.
"The state does not create cohabitation; rather it is a person's determination to share some of life's responsibilities with another that creates cohabitation," Moyer wrote. "The state does not have a role in creating cohabitation, but it does have a role in creating a marriage."
The case was being closely watched around the country for the precedent it could set affecting a dozen similarly worded bans. It is among the first before a state Supreme Court to interpret any of the constitutional gay-marriage bans passed after Massachusetts allowed same-sex marriages.
You can read the full opinion at : http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/newpdf/0/2007/2007-Ohio-3723.pdf.
Although this decision should curtail efforts in other states by domestic violence offenders to invoke gay marraige in order to escape accountability, the case offers a cautionary tale about the potential unintended consequences of gay marriage bans.