Unintended Consequences

Ohio’s same-sex marriage amendment is proving a boon for domestic abusers.

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Ohio’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is two sentences long:

Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.

The first sentence strips same sex couples of the right to marry, the second has caused residual damage to all unmarried couples, threatening the rights to safety of single Ohioans. That the state does not “recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals” has managed to weaken the state’s domestic violence statute to the point where unmarried accused batterers have, in at least a dozen cases, formally challenged domestic abuse convictions that had been brought down before the amendment.

This loophole has already resulted in the dismissal of charges in two cases where offenses that were once classified as felonies became misdemeanors in light of the amendment, which invalidates the domestic violence statute recognized for married couples. Both of those cases are on appeal and in April, Ohio Representative William J. Healy (D) introduced a bill that would clarify the amendment, allowing protections for cohabitating unmarried couples. The bill makes no mention of extending rights to same sex couples, “married” or otherwise.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate