The Loudoun County version of the Times Community newspaper had this report on June 22nd about a women's shelter's concern over the impact of the Marshall/Newman amendment on domestic violence victims.
Here's a story the shelter (SAFE) used to illustrate why it's not OKAY just to have assault laws cover domestic assaults involving unmarried couples:
She escaped to the Sheriff's department, where officers referred her to SAFE – Services to Abused Families. By then she was in bad shape.
"There wasn't an inch of her body that wasn't bruised," said SAFE justice service advocate April Baumgardner.
Workers quickly took the victim to the hospital and filed for an EPO – Emergency Protective Order. The police in turn filed an All Points Bulletin on the boyfriend.
Because of a proposed state constitutional amendment, that scenario could change. There would be no emergency protection. Nor would there be an APB for the boyfriend. The incident would not be treated anymore seriously than a parking lot scuffle.
A proposed marriage amendment, which goes before voters on Nov. 7th, would ban same-sex marriage and partnerships such as civil unions that resemble marriage.
SAFE worries the language of the amendment could affect how it responds to domestic violence cases with unmarried couples.
"We wouldn't have been able to get the EPO," Ms. Baumgarder said. Too, the boyfriend would be charged with a misdemeanor instead of the current felony.
One other thing…. without the protective order, there's no way to keep domestic violence perpertrators from bringing the fight into the workplace … and the #1 cause of death of women in the workplace? Murder.
Proponents of the Marshall/Newman amendment say that concerns expressed about its impact on domestic violence cases have “no validity.”
Funny that’s what the proponents of the amendment in Ohio said, too. During and after the Ohio amendment campaign, the head of Citizens for Community Values, the key proponent of the amendment, dismissed the domestic violence argument as “absolutely absurd”.
So, what are they saying now?
In an Amicus Brief by Citizens for Community Values filed on behalf of an unmarried man appealing a domestic violence conviction in the case Ohio v. Carswell, which the Ohio Supreme Court has just agreed to hear, the very same folks who dismissed these concerns as “absurd” now are arguing that the defendent is right — that the Ohio constitution (which has identical language to one of the three sentences in the Marshall/Newman amendment) prohibits the state from prosecuting unmarried abusers under Ohio’s domestic violence laws.
The intermediate appeals court in Ohio had held that the constitution did not prohibit prosecution of the abuser and it overturned the trial court decision amending his charge to simple assault. This meant that he would face higher penalties, so the abuser appealed.
And, now Citizens for Community Values are there supporting his arguments … arguments that they told voters were “absurd.”
What credibility,then, should we attach to the claims of the proponents of the Virginia amendment that the concerns of 60,000 plus unmarried domestic violence victims are invalid?