Ohio’s 2004 constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage makes a previous domestic violence statute unconstitutional under the amendment’s provisions, an Ohio appellate court ruled recently. The same-sex marriage amendment declares that the state cannot confer legal status on relationships of unmarried individuals. In late May, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Logan County struck down a domestic violence statue in Ohio because it created a relationship between unmarried individuals living together for the purposes of prosecuting domestic violence offenders.
Without the protection of the statute, the punishment for domestic violence is lowered from a felony to a misdemeanor. This change leaves unmarried women increasingly vulnerable to physical abuse from their partners. A majority of victims of domestic violence are unmarried, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The ruling comes as a result of a domestic violence case from 2004. Ohio resident Dallas McKinley was charged with assaulting his live-in girlfriend and convicted on felony charges under the criminal domestic violence statute. His conviction was overturned with the appeals court ruling. Assistant Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart said the new ruling will be appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court within the next 30 days, according to the Lima News.