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October 16, 2006

Meanwhile, In Ohio...

From today's Dayton Daily News:

Domestic-violence law being challenged (registration required):

Ohio is one of those states that in a haze of gay panic ("OMG WTF! Teh gayz wants the marry!!!!11!!!!ONE!1!!") passed a state constitutional amendment that not only defined marriage as between a man and a woman but went out of its way to make sure no other relationship could ever have the same rights and privileges as marriage. Yes, that sure showed the homos a thing or two -- now they'll have no choice in Ohio but to have the empty personal lives devoid of meaningful relationships that the particularly hateful have always demanded they have.

But it also means that when a straight male jackass beats the crap out of his live-in girlfriend, you know, maybe because she just wouldn't listen, he can argue to the Ohio Supreme Court, as one Michael Carswell is doing after he was indicted on felony domestic violence, that he ought not be charged with the crime in question. Because the law covers "people living as a spouse" -- and as we all know, no one in Ohio can live as a spouse except a spouse.

So go ahead, Ohio jackasses! Beat the crap out of your girlfriends! The worst you can be charged with is misdemeanor assault! You can probably talk your sentencing down to a fine and 15 hours of picking trash off the highway. Plus, it's more difficult for your girlfriend to get a restraining order against you, which makes it easier for you to keep her in line. And remember, guys, nothing sticks it to the fags wishing for the rights and protections marriage provides than a straight man kicking in the ribs of his live-in lady. Yes, that'll show 'em. That'll show them all.

To be fair to Ohio, not every court in the state has determined that the domestic-violence law conflicts with the Ohio State Constitution. However, the 2nd District Court of Appeals, which covers the county in which I live, has ruled that it does. So in my hometown, you can't be charged with felony domestic-violence if you pummel your longtime companion when she gets mouthy. But I suppose if she wanted protection from your fists, the bitch should have married you.

Meanwhile, the Citizens for Community Values, one of the conservative groups that helped pass the anti-gay amendment in Ohio, and "officially Associated with Focus on the Family and Family Research Council as a Family Policy Council in Ohio," has filed an amicus brief supporting the guy who is charged with beating the crap out of his girlfriend. Naturally, the Citizens for Community Values isn't arguing for unmarried men methodically abusing their girlfriends, per se. It's just that the sanctity of marriage is so important to protect that if it means some shameless hussy living outside the sanctifying grace of matrimony has to forgo the full protection of the law when her guy pushes her down the stairs, well. Some sacrifices have to be made. Unless, of course, she was pregnant at the time. In which case I'm sure all these fine folks would be happy to charge the guy with endangering a fetus. One has to prioritize one's community values.

What's really awesome about this is that if the Ohio Supreme Court agrees that the domestic-violence law is unconstitutional, girlfriend thumpers in other states that have similar anti-gay marriage amendments in their constitutions can start to use this strategy in their states as well! It'll be like a renaissance for unmarried abusers. The glory days, as it were, for gut-punching uppity chicks. And they'll owe it all to conservative homophobia. Sure, it's a little weird to get from gay panic to a free ticket for girlfriend abuse. But they'll take it.

Thanks, social conservatives! You guys rock.

Posted by john at October 16, 2006 08:53 AM

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Comments

Jay Lake | October 16, 2006 10:22 AM

Sigh. Every time I think those morons on the Right have hit bottom, they break through to a whole new level.

Chang, stealing the internet from his car! | October 16, 2006 10:30 AM

You just know there is a Bible study group in hell. So whenever one of these bibblewhackers dies and hits the wrought iron gates of ol' H.E. Double Hockey-Sticks, Lucifer - a former Angel hisself! - can sit down with them and show them how they have misinterpeted the fuck out of the Bible.

Stuff like this is just so ass-backwards I wonder how come they can't see it themselves. The vapors of their own sanctimny must prevent them from any clear sight or thinking.

Back to some of my own writing.

RooK | October 16, 2006 10:52 AM

Sure, it's a little weird to get from gay panic to a free ticket for girlfriend abuse.

Oh, come now. Surely it's not hard to see just how close these two things really are. Misogyny and homophobia are two peas in a retrograde pod. Both can be overreactions to a sense of male inadequacy.

CJ-in-Weld | October 16, 2006 10:53 AM

I hope your Supreme Court doesn't bite. Leave aside the merits of the constitutional amendment for a moment - courts have an obligation to interpret statutes in accordance with legislative intent if they can do so without clearly violating a constitutional rule. Here, "as a spouse" can fairly be interpreted as "in an intimate relationship," if that's what the legislature meant. If the goal was to add teeth to a law combatting a perceived social problem - here, the cycle of violence that exists in some domestic relationships - the courts should defer, by building on the argument that enhanced penalties for people who beat on victims who live with them is not the same as attributing a special status to the relationship in question.

Kevin Q | October 16, 2006 11:03 AM

CJ-in-Weld,
Your "legislative intent" argument goes up in smoke when the main drivers behind the constitutional amendment argue that this is the right outcome.

When Ohio voters passed the constitutional amendment, they intended an outcome like this, as evidenced by CCV's amicus. And the intent of the people in passing a constitutional amendment trumps the intent of the legislature in passing a statute, because the legislature only has the power granted by the constitution.

K

John Scalzi | October 16, 2006 11:08 AM

CJ-in-Weld:

"I hope your Supreme Court doesn't bite."

I'm not entirely sure the SCOTSOO can avoid biting; appelate courts in various parts of Ohio have ruled differently on this subject and I believe the court is obliged to standardize the interpretation statewide. I could be wrong about this, however.

CJ-in-Weld | October 16, 2006 11:11 AM

Scalzi: I mean, I hope they don't bite on the argument that law doesn't apply. I am a prosecutor (in a different state) - my bias is that courts should give deference to statutes. If there is a rational choice between interpretations, one that violates the constitution and one that doesn't - the courts should land on the interpretation that doesn't.

Gabriel Malor | October 16, 2006 11:13 AM

John, it's noteworthy that there are quite a few "conservative homophobes" who voted for John Kerry and also voted for Ohio's Marriage amendment.

The marriage vote was:

YES votes = 3,329,335 (61.71%)
NO votes = 2,065,462 (38.29%).

Ohio doesn't keep voter party information, but the election returns for that year had

BUSH votes = 2,859,768 (50.81%)
KERRY votes = 2,741,167 (48.71%).

CJ-in-Weld | October 16, 2006 11:14 AM

And Kevin Q - the legislative intent goes to what the legislature meant, along with what the constitutional amendment actually means. The Supreme Court's role is to give effect to both, if it can rationally do so.

Steve Buchheit | October 16, 2006 11:15 AM

John, you forgot to include that here in Ohio we have "Covenant Marriage" as the prefered option of marriage. "Covenant Marriage" includes prenuptial documents that strip away the right of "no-fault divorse" which is the usual route of those trying to get away from abusive relationships (although abuse is still grounds for divorse in Ohio, I won't go into the psychology here about co-dependency). "Covenant Marriage" also requires the use of councillors when there is a problem in the marriage. So these bastages have also slipped in other fetters to keep those "uppity wymon" where they think they belong. I would also make the comment that not all spousal/relationship abuse is man on women.

Say, could I borrow your wife's bat? I think some people need to have sunshine let in their heads.

John Scalzi | October 16, 2006 11:22 AM

Gabriel Malor:

"John, it's noteworthy that there are quite a few 'conservative homophobes' who voted for John Kerry and also voted for Ohio's Marriage amendment."

It's certainly true there are lots of homophobes in Ohio of all sorts of political persuasions.

However, it's the conservative homophobes who got the Amendment 2 on the ballot in the first place.

Steve Buchheit | October 16, 2006 11:22 AM

Gabriel, there was an intensive mis-information campaign waged by the "Gay Marriage Amendment" proponents during the election. We're seeing similar tactics with our current state issues (mostly 4 and 5, two competing issues about smoking). It's been pretty well shown that the Conservative Religious who swung the vote in Ohio to Bush were motivated to vote by the "Gay Marriage" issue on the ballot. In other words, if that amendment wasn't there, Ohio would have gone for Kerry.

Nathan | October 16, 2006 11:24 AM


So, if the domestic abuse takes place in a gay relationship, is it considered legitimate to claim that the supposed victim "tried to get me to suck that thing and I was just defending myself"?

Kendoway | October 16, 2006 11:25 AM

From the article:

[[The domestic-violence law, adopted in 1979, specifically
covers "persons living as a spouse".]]

So the next logical step for Ohio would be to change that law, but exclude same sex partners.

Some of you proceed to the left, work camp. Everyone else to the right, showers and delousing.

John Scalzi | October 16, 2006 11:28 AM

Kendoway:

"So the next logical step for Ohio would be to change that law, but exclude same sex partners."

Can't do that without changing the state constitution, Kendoway. The Constitution disallows any relationship having the incidents of marriage other than marriage itself. This applies universally.

CJ-in-Weld | October 16, 2006 11:31 AM

One last thing - sorry for the shotgun approach. Unless Ohio has a really strange legal tradition or rule, its Supreme Court is not bound by the specific views of the specific people who sponsored the constitutional amendment in the first place. So there's no need to roll over and assume that the good guys have to lose this one.

Kevin Q | October 16, 2006 11:34 AM

CJ-in-Weld,
You're right about the Supreme Court's role here, but if it can be shown that the intent of the later constitutional amendment was to overturn the earlier statute in this area (and I would argue that an amicus filed by a proponent of the amendment would constitute evidence of such), then the intent of the legislature in crafting the earlier statute no longer matters.

Or, in plain English, the people who pushed the constitutional amendment say that, in this case, the amendment was supposed to have exactly this effect. So the earlier statute is trumped by a later constitutional amendment.

K

Kevin Q | October 16, 2006 11:40 AM

CJ-in-Weld,
I wouldn't argue that the Supreme Court is bound to the interpretation given by CCV. However, I don't think you can argue "legislative intent," for the statute, and not argue "voters' intent," for the amendment.

K

CJ-in-Weld | October 16, 2006 11:41 AM

Kevin Q - I agree, you have neatly summarized the side of the people seeking to limit the domestic violence statute. However, in law, there is always another side, and often, there is another side that is not laughable. Here, I would argue that regardless of what these amendment sponsors think the amendment should say, the Supremes can rationally decide that the language of the actual amendment doesn't go that far.
This is actually pretty neat - the more strictly constructionist approach to constitutional interpretation defeats the same people who usually claim (erroneously) to support such an interpretation!
I've never practiced in Ohio, so take my thoughts for what they're worth, but there will be smart lawyers on both sides, and at least a few justices who will be looking for any reasonable excuse not to reward the actual scumbag defendants in these cases.

John Scalzi | October 16, 2006 11:41 AM

CJ-in-Weld:

"Scalzi: I mean, I hope they don't bite on the argument that law doesn't apply."

Oh, I don't necessarily expect SCOTSOO to agree that enforcing domestic violence laws confers martial rights, particularly since the lower courts appear to be conflicted on the issue.

That said, it would be interesting if it did, in part because I'd make the assumption that the vast majority of the people who voted for Amendment 2 would disagree with the proposition that people should be able to avoid domestic abuse charges when they abuse their unmarried partners. It could cause Amendment 2 to be repealed, at least partially.

I don't think this is the optimal outcome (I'd prefer people be protected from domestic abuse regardless), but it's a possible outcome.

CJ-in-Weld | October 16, 2006 11:43 AM

Kevin Q said:
"However, I don't think you can argue "legislative intent," for the statute, and not argue "voters' intent," for the amendment."
Why not? This is the law, not science!
Less flippantly - "voter intent" is rather more nebulous than legislative intent, and either can be trumped by a "plain language" approach or some combination. If I were the prosecutors defending the statute (or whoever does that in Ohio - Attorney General?) I would not be despairing.

AliceB | October 16, 2006 11:43 AM

"Can't do that without changing the state constitution, Kendoway. The Constitution disallows any relationship having the incidents of marriage other than marriage itself. This applies universally."

Actually, it's not so difficult, even with Ohio's law. Some states have anti-elder abuse laws--protection for elderly members of a household--which provide similar protections as other domestic abuse laws. All you have to provide is that a "member of the household" cannot beat up another member and that if that happens then the victim can get recourse in court.

Assault is a crime regardless of marital/family relationships. The domestic violence laws exist to recognize that in a household situation there are also relationships of power that are used in the abuse and we need special provisions to protect the victims under those circumstances. This can all be recognized without any ideas of marriage. Not that the a***h*l*s who are backing the abuser in this case aren't way beyond the pale--it's just quite possible to get around them, without violating Ohio's misbegotten constitutional amendment, if the state does care at all about protecting victims of abuse.

John Scalzi | October 16, 2006 11:50 AM

AliceB:

"All you have to provide is that a 'member of the household' cannot beat up another member and that if that happens then the victim can get recourse in court."

Interestingly, this was brought up in the DDN today -- apparently some folks feel such a legislation would be overbroad because then platonic roomates, for example, could say they were domestically abused, which would then make their assailants eligible for greater penalties.

I'm not entirely sure I agree that this would be overreaching -- I think people should feel safe in their own homes -- but I suspect it would end up being called something other than "domestic abuse."

AliceB | October 16, 2006 11:56 AM

To be clear (since a lot of others posted while I was composing): I was responding to the idea that it'd be difficult to amend the statute to continue to provide protections for unmarried people if the Supreme Court rules that the amendment should be interpreted to protect the abuser in this case.

I actually hope Ohio never has to get there. I agree with CJ-in-Weld the Ohio Supreme Court has enough wiggle room to do the right thing.

AliceB | October 16, 2006 11:58 AM

What's DDN?

Eric | October 16, 2006 12:00 PM

Another lawyer piping in just to say: even if the legislature didn't intend this result, the Courts interpreting the statute may be obliged to interpret it according to the literal and obvious meaning of the words therein--that old "four corners" rule. Traditionally, "legislative intent" is only supposed to come into play when the literal meaning of the statute is unclear. Of course, in practice, courts have been known to use whatever means of statutory construction yields the results they were looking for. But in theory, legislative intent is at best third or fourth among the tools for construing a statute, after plain meaning and Constitutional-compliance.

Don't be surprised, then, if the Ohio S.C. eventually issues an opinion that says something along the lines of, "While this situation was clearly not what the authors of the statute had in mind, we are regretfully obligated to interpret that statute as meaning what it says...."

Tor | October 16, 2006 12:01 PM

My understanding of the law is the opposite of what John just wrote, although I'm not an expert on Ohio law. The Ohio Constitution was amended to
prevent any other relationship from being recognized that "intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage."

Which doesn't eliminate every eliminate every relationship that shares *any* incidence of marriage, just those which attempt to approximate straight old-fashioned marriage. Which eliminates common law marriage. This is significant because the Domestic Violence Statute defines Domestic Violence with reference to:

"Person living as a spouse" means a person who is living or has lived with the offender in a common law marital relationship, who otherwise is cohabiting with the offender, or who otherwise has cohabited with the offender within five years prior to the date of the alleged commission of the act in question.

The statute could easily be amended to remove 'in a common law marital relationship' and apply to all couples living together, in perfect agreement with the Constitution. So the new statute would read:

"Person living as a spouse" means a person who is living or has lived with the offender, who otherwise is cohabiting with the offender, or who otherwise has cohabited with the offender within five years prior to the date of the alleged commission of the act in question.

That means that anyone who lives together is punished more severely if they injure someone in their household, than if they injured someone who did not live with them in the past five years. Including same sex couples. The pervasive gay rights mafia strikes again, with me as its tool.

And when I said the statute could 'easily' be amended, I meant that in a world of intelligent, non-bigoted people, who would stand against an amendment that resulted in stiffer sentences for those who battered the people they live with? Even if sometimes, gay people had that protection?

That, of course, is the problem - we don't live in a world of intelligent non-bigoted people.

Tor | October 16, 2006 12:06 PM

And now that I've read John's follow-up comment, i may have misunderstood what he wrote. And in any event, I think the platonic roommate issue will be trumped by the inevitable 'gay rights' agenda which will be brought up by the people who passed the original amendment that caused this problem in the first place - because if the amendment passed, it was god's will, and therefore it could not be flawed in any way.

John Scalzi | October 16, 2006 12:07 PM

Alice B:

DDN = Dayton Daily News.

save_the_rustbelt | October 16, 2006 12:15 PM

When asked about his issue the crazed yahoos and rednecks who pushed this issue denied any such issue.

And soon after the passage their lawyer friends started litigating it.

The head redneck is on his third wife, largely due to being a major league customer of hard core porn. Then he found Jesus and is out to save the world.

Hell, so what't the problem with whupping the little lady once in a while, doesn't the Bible say so? Duh.

Steve Buchheit | October 16, 2006 12:24 PM

For those hoping the Ohio State Legislature will actually be able to see that they have to fix this in some manner are forgetting this is the same group who passed Malpractice Tort Reform so that our doctors wouldn't face the heartache of double-digital percentage insurance premium rate hikes. Oh, the rending of cloth and the beating of breasts about the issue of doctors being sued is why rates are going up. The next year when the insurance companies raised the premiums by 14% (lower than the 18% the previous year) they asked the insurance companies why the rate hikes weren't lower, if not a roll-back, because of the Ohio Malpractice Reform the insurance companies replied, "we never said that’s why the rates went up."

There was no talk about repealing the tort reform to restore citizen's rights.

Maybe the only thing they did right in the past ten years was recognize our host for his outstanding achievements.

Jon | October 16, 2006 12:36 PM

I propose a solution: anyone who argues that beating up his girlfriend shouldn't be a felony just because she isn't married to him, needs to be shot in the head.

PixelFish | October 16, 2006 12:43 PM

That's revolting. I hope the court system whacks this law down for being Tres Stupide, or at least, unconstitutional.

Guess I'm gonna have to rethink my commune in Dayton idea. Not that I worry about my bf kicking the shit out of me, but apparently I'm a non-person until I get legally hitched.

Tor | October 16, 2006 12:50 PM

Jon - what if it's your girlfriend who makes that argument? Oh! What delicious irony.

PixelFish - it's not that you are a non-person, just that your bf would not be subject to increased penalties under the DV law for hitting you. So you technically are a person, just one who can be abused more easily than one who is hitched.

John Scalzi | October 16, 2006 12:51 PM

Indeed. Pick your paramours wisely.

Kevin Q | October 16, 2006 12:55 PM

AliceB said:

I agree with CJ-in-Weld the Ohio Supreme Court has enough wiggle room to do the right thing.

I agree with the sentiment, but I wonder, what is the right thing? I'm a fairly liberal Democrat, and I would love that the constitutional amendment is used to defend a scumbag abuser.

I believe that when people start legislating based on their private morality, unintended consequences pop up, and play havoc with their plans. This is possibly the most extreme "unintended consequence" that could have happened, and if SCOTSOO lets it stand, it exists as a huge red flag to others who might try the same thing. People who see this interpretation might be inclined to realize how poorly thought-out and ill-advised the amendment was, and vote to revoke it. But if the court fixes this problem, then all of the other, littler unintended consequences still exist, as does the greater injustice of denying equal protection under the law.

K

Annalee Flower Horne | October 16, 2006 01:01 PM

It's been pretty well shown that the Conservative Religious who swung the vote in Ohio to Bush were motivated to vote by the "Gay Marriage" issue on the ballot.

Personally, this issue highlights exactly why I'm so frustrated with the democratic party right now. When republicans tried to turn the presidential election into a debate over DOMA, the democrats got all wishy-washy and said "we think gay mariage a state issue." They should have said "the DOMA would destroy domestic violence protection for non-married couples. People who support the DOMA think it's ok to hit women." They knew this was coming. There should have been billboards all over Ohio featuring women with black eyes saying "Please don't let my boyfriend hit me: Don't Support the DOMA." Children standing in Emergency Rooms saying "DOMA sent mommy here." Pictures of gravestones that read "Loving daughter killed by DOMA." Would it have been a cheap tactic? Hell yes. But at least it would have been them arguing on their own ground for once.

Instead, they did what they always do, which is let Republicans frame the debate and then argue it on republican terms instead of challenging them. They've been doing it since before Kerry got the nomination: "No I haven't flip-flopped" instead of "I voted in favor of a bill that raised benefits for GIs and against one that lowered them. A vote for Kerry is a vote for your troops."

I'm not blaming the DNC for this particular domestic violence issue, because I know it was the homophobic, moralizing religious right's fault. But they might actually have been successful in preventing its passage if they'd go hire a rhetoritician or twenty to teach them how to argue.

(for the record, I can't remember if GI benefits were the exact issue behind the 'flip-flop' BS, but I know that it was the riders and not the supposed point of the law that determined how a lot of democrats voted on it).

CJ-in-Weld | October 16, 2006 01:08 PM

The "right thing" under any mainstream theory of constitutional and statutory interpretation is to give the constitutional amendment the meaning of its language, AND to give effect to duly enacted statutes if at all possible. Statutes are presumed constitutional. Generally, unless a statute purports to create a distinction based on race, it is the job of the person challenging a statute to prove that it is unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt; the person defending the statute doesn't have to prove the statute is constitutional.

Based on that, the Ohio Supremes shouldn't be in a hurry to assume the domestic violence law is unconstitutional as applied in the challengers' cases. My guess, based on my observation of the behavior of courts elsewhere, is that the statute will be upheld on narrow technical grounds.

Bryan Price | October 16, 2006 01:20 PM

It's issues like this that really make me want to not say that I'm an Ohioan.

James | October 16, 2006 01:37 PM

Not defending this law by any means but can they not go after this guy on felony aggrivated assult? If the same guy beats the crap out of me for 5 minutes because of road rage and then goes home and beats his wife for 5 minutes. Why should those be viewed as different types of crimes?

CJ-in-Weld | October 16, 2006 01:42 PM

James: it sounds like under Ohio law an assault that would normally be a misdemeanor becomes a felony in a domestic violence situation. Thus, the domestic violence charge is really a sentencing enhancer, not a separate crime by itself.

John Scalzi | October 16, 2006 01:42 PM

James:

"Why should those be viewed as different types of crimes?"

I would imagine because of the general perception that beating the crap out of a presumably loved one is particularly heinous, and other things relating to the psychological and economic issues of being in a live-in relationship. The context is not trivial in the eyes of the law, in other words.

Brian Greenberg | October 16, 2006 01:45 PM

Annalee Flower Horne:
They should have said "the DOMA would destroy domestic violence protection for non-married couples. People who support the DOMA think it's ok to hit women." They knew this was coming. There should have been billboards all over Ohio featuring women with black eyes saying "Please don't let my boyfriend hit me: Don't Support the DOMA." Children standing in Emergency Rooms saying "DOMA sent mommy here." Pictures of gravestones that read "Loving daughter killed by DOMA." Would it have been a cheap tactic? Hell yes. But at least it would have been them arguing on their own ground for once.

Gotta love partisan politics: John bent the facts a little, then Annalee broke them in pieces.

IANAL, but the ammendment seems to "defend" domestic violence because the domesetic violence law refers to "persons living as a spouse," and then defines that term with the term "common law marriage." As Tor points out, a small change to the domestic violence law would render the ammendment solely homophobic, as opposed to both homophobic and unmarried-woman-phobic (no, it's not a word...leave me alone).

John implies that the folks who wrote the ammendment intentionally added the language to soften domestic violence penalties, which certainly sounds like a leap of logic, although anything's possible. (The fact that someone is now defending a girlfriend abuser to protect the ammendment proves nothing - remember, these are the same folks who fought against anti-cancer vaccines because they might encourage premarital sex. Their goal is to defend their law, and to give an inch means giving up entirely - regardless of how assinine that inch might be).

In either case, it certainly isn't true that the same amemndment would reduce domestic violence penalties in other states (unless those other states had a domestic violence law that was similar to Ohio's). Annalee has taken this as fact, though, extended it to the DOMA, and is now advocating for political ads that say "People who support the DOMA think it's ok to hit women," complete with provactive pictures of battered women in emergency rooms.

I, personally, have no issue with gay marriage, so I don't support the DOMA or this ammendment, but I've heard enough reasonable argument from reasonable people against gay marriage to know that not everyone who supports the DOMA thinks it's OK to hit women. If you want to talk about letting the religious right frame the debate, then you have to own up to pulling the focus of the debate off the important topic (homophobia) and focusing on a tangentially related, but headline-grabbing, topic (soft on domestic violence). At the end of this discussion, no one will be any closer to allowing gay marriage, and I bet the authors of the ammendment like that just fine.

Don | October 16, 2006 01:46 PM

PixelFish: "...but apparently I'm a non-person until I get legally hitched."

Unfortunately that is still very true for women in some places here in the South. And even once they do get married, many are still under the thumb of their domineering husbands. These groups that try to legislate their morality will unintentionally take us back to women-as-property.

I guess regression of society is all too possible.

AliceB | October 16, 2006 01:57 PM

"Not defending this law by any means but can they not go after this guy on felony aggrivated assult? If the same guy beats the crap out of me for 5 minutes because of road rage and then goes home and beats his wife for 5 minutes. Why should those be viewed as different types of crimes?"

You are absolutely right. But historically, cops have shied away from domestic abuse on the theory that it's private, and because they've held a large (historical) dose of misoginy. Domestic violence laws are relative newcomers--they date back to the 1970s and 80s. And even then, enforcement was spotty. It wasn't until high profile murders of victims after abusers were let go with slaps on the hand in the mid 1980s that Connecticut got serious about the problem, providing intensive police training, getting more prosecutors on board, etc.

It's the cops on the ground that enforce the laws, not the Supreme Court. And unless there's something pretty clear on the books, they tend to shy away--which is why states have had to enact elder-abuse laws.

Most domestic abuse laws also provide help in ways that a victim of aggravated assault might not need--a quick access to a restraining order; provisions dealing with children of the couple; etc. This exists because in a domestic situation, part of the abuse is the abusers' relative economic and psychological strengths in addition to physical strength.

It's a huge issue. That's why is is definitively the right thing, both legally and morally to keep the domestic violence laws on the books for everyone, because if they are thrown out, you strip away something extremely difficult to replace from some extremely fragile people.

John Scalzi | October 16, 2006 02:01 PM

Brian Greenberg:

"John implies that the folks who wrote the ammendment intentionally added the language to soften domestic violence penalties"

Uh, let's change that to:

"Brian pulls some ridiculous assertion wholly out of his ass in order to make a point he couldn't make otherwise and thus makes himself look foolish in the process," because at no point do I imply that the people who wrote this idiotic and bigoted amendment intentionally added the language to soften domestic violence penalties. If you're reading that into what I wrote, Brian, those are your issues, not mine.

I mean, honestly, what the Hell, Brian? There's nothing I wrote there that even comes close to suggesting that. I'm genuinely flummoxed as to how you can assert such a thing.

Steve Buchheit | October 16, 2006 02:49 PM

Scalzi, that's fine for you, but I'll go closer. The people who supported and pushed this Constitutional Amendment are very cognizant that this would be a result, even if most of the people who voted for it didn't know. They intentionally worded the amendment to specifically strike down laws like those enacted in Shaker Heights we legally required businesses conducting business in the community to offer "partnership benefits." By the far right these are described as "same sex rights" but actually extend to a larger community of people who live together, but haven't been married. The same nut jobs who pushed this issue and stoked the faithful to go vote for this travesty, who called the opposition horrible names, who engaged in deceitful election tactics, and then got the GOP to back them very willfully knew that this issue would come up and didn't care. They didn't care because they believe that if you live together in a sexual relationship you should be married first, preferably in a church with a "Covenant Marriage" agreement as long as you aren't gay, in which they believe you need to get help with an organization like Exodeus. They don’t' care that this woman was beaten, because in their eyes she deserved it, being the Godless person she is for being in such a relationship. They passed this as a Constitutional Amendment just so it couldn't be overturned because of these issues or any municipality claiming "Home Rule." So they didn't write their amendment to soften domestic-violence laws, but they don't care that this is a result and they are writing the amicus not because they're afraid of a slippery slope, but because if the Ohio Supremes say the domestic-violence laws apply to people who live together, it would be in direct contradiction to what they meant for this amendment to cover.

I'll be over in that corner chewing tin-foil now.

James | October 16, 2006 02:54 PM

"The context is not trivial in the eyes of the law, in other words. "

Well I guess I can see that point. SOrt of like the argument against cop killers. 'If someone is crazy enough to go after cops then they could go after anyone.' And if someone is crazy enough to beat the crap out of a 'loved' one, they should be voted off our island.

But I also feel that someone who would beat the crap out of a total stranger should be removed from society for an extended period too. Misdemenor assult should only be for the 1 punch bar fights and stuff like that.

Tor | October 16, 2006 03:13 PM

I'm wondering if there is a way to include married and unmarried couples and exclude roommates from a Domestic Violence statute, without using common law marriage to define the relationship. Before we fight over whether the right did it on purpose, is there a way that they could have *avoided* doing it while still banning gay marriage? I'm not sure there is, due to the DV statute's reliance on common law marriage to define the relationship...

Tor | October 16, 2006 03:24 PM

The other issue with DV is, where do you go after you have been attacked? What if your spouse has encouraged you not to spend time with other people, as happens fairly often in abusive relationships...

Who can you call for help, if you don't have friends in the area?

How do you get clothes for work for the rest of the week?

Do you want someone who beat you up home with the kids?

The reason that DV is punished more severely (or at least part of it) is twofold. (1) society is more horrified at abuse coming from a 'loved one' as the person who should be supporting you emotionally after the abuse is the one who inflicted it. (2) society recognizes the DV has harsher consequences - your home is no longer your castle, it is the castle shared (at best) with your abuser. All of your possession, possibly your children, all of your papers and financial statements, heirlooms and personal possessions are in a location shared with someone who assaulted you. Society has an interest in deterrance of this kind of abuse, and after the fact, isolating the abuser from society for extended periods of time. A random assult by a stranger, while horrible, is unlikely to lead to further repeated abuse, the destruction of your personal possessions, your children being abused, your finances and investments being liquidated and stolen and so on.

Without minimizing the effects of any assult, domestic violence is a higher order of criminal behavior.

Martyn Taylor | October 16, 2006 03:25 PM

Jon - putting a bullet into the head of the abuser (any abuser) What makes you think it would do any good? There's nothing in there. It would just go boingety boingety boingety until it rolled down his neck like one of those chutes in a penny arcade.

Speaking as a complete outsider who cannot understand how any rational society can have the politics I've been reading about here and elsewhere, I'm reminded of an ancient Greek aphorism. Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

Hope I'm wrong.

Brandon | October 16, 2006 03:26 PM

I've gotta agree with Steve. People who can't respect gay couples also can't possibly understand nor respect unmarried cohabitators.

Paul | October 16, 2006 04:47 PM

Ah, sweet, sweet sarcasm. You wield it as proficiently and effectively as your wife wields that baseball bat. Nicely done. I shall simmer in it for the rest of the evening.

Steve Buchheit | October 16, 2006 05:41 PM

What Tor said.

There's also the issue of enforcement. Ask any beat policeman if they would rather go up against a knife-wielding drug-addict hyped-up on something or to have to enter a residence on a domestic call, my money is they'll choose the druggie every time.

A misdemeanor crime is charged at the discretion of the responding officer. If the officer doesn't see the crime happening, or evidence of the crime (like bruises, broken limbs, etc) they're not going to inflame the situation by attempting to place somebody under arrest and risk the accuser turning and attacking the officer. However, if the crime is a felony the officer has limited choice in the matter. In some places if they are called in on a domestic violence call, somebody is going to jail (either the potential abuser or the person who called in) overnight. A felony can also be investigated and continue to trial even without the cooperation of the victim, and the prosecuting attorney has a greater incentive to actually prosecute a case. Also, if there are mandatory holding times, the victim might see that they will be protected and proceed with charges.

Also, domestic abuse isn't like assault. Domestic abuse is a power play, the physical violence is only the outward manifestation of other acts and control issues going on. These guys hitting (or worse) their wives (or the other way around) aren't doing it because they get angry and then fly off, they get angry about something to abuse their spouse to keep them in line. There is a difference there, one proceeds from the anger, in the latter the anger is the excuse to do what they were going to do anyway.

Scorpio | October 16, 2006 06:50 PM

Ohio: following South Dakota in the competition to be the most regressive, and following Florida in the race to be the most electorally corrupt.

Eric | October 16, 2006 06:55 PM

Steve, any crime (misdemeanor or felony) can be prosecuted without the co-operation of the victim. The only way in which the victim's co-operation becomes an issue is that the State always has an obligation to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, and in most cases a crime victim is a necessary witness. In a DV case, the alleged victim may be the only witness. Even if the officer witnesses bruises or cuts, it's generally going to be insufficient evidence to convict. Statements made by the victim at the crime scene are almost always going to be inadmissable--moreso since the SCOTUS decision in Crawford put teeth back into the Confrontation Clause of the Constitution (effectively rendering most hearsay "exceptions" unconstitutional).

A sad truth that I'd hoped to avoid being the one to point out is that the major driving force behind DV laws, like DWI laws, is politics. A legislator who votes to make an assault a felony if the alleged victim is a spouse or girlfriend has nothing to lose and everything to gain, and arresting people, prosecuting people (and defending people--let's not forget that innocent or less-culpable people get accused under these laws) really isn't his problem. In fact, it's kinda the opposite: if Mr. Legislator passes an unenforceable law to "protect" battered women, he can score more points next election cycle by complaining about how the courts fail to enforce the law, thereby justifying a new slate of (equally unenforceable) legislation. And, like drunk drivers, wife-beaters have lousy lobbyists.

In the case of what's happened in Ohio, I think the benefitting politicians have tripped over themselves. While it's certainly possible that some of the instigators of all of this knew what they were doing and hope to punish gays and straights who live in sin outside the institution of Holy Matrimony, I think most of the schlubs who worked on this legislation and voted for it, along with the citizens who voted for the constitutional amendment, were suffering cognitive dissonance and never realized that their incoherent thoughts would actually collide, like the space-tunnel-trapped guy in that old Star Trek episode who can't meet himself without exploding.

CJ-in-Weld | October 16, 2006 07:12 PM

May I concur with what Eric wrote, and add how demoralizing it is to prosecute a steady stream of domestic violence cases? Prosecuting DV is about the most thankless task for a deputy district attorney.

Most of the time, by the time a case rolls around to court, the victim has recanted her accusation and wants the case dismissed. The law in Colorado says a peace officer "shall" arrest a suspect when there is probable cause to believe domestic violence has been committed. While I understand the reasoning behind it, there is a downside - a bunch of dudd cases where victim and defendant alike cooperate to scuttle the case.

That's when one starts to wonder: "Why the hell do we have this policy? Shouldn't we be devoting resources to cases with cooperative victims? And doesn't this DV practice infantilize women, by giving them less say in what happens than a victim in a non-DV case? And why the hell do I care about this woman who hates me anyway? To hell with her!" The arguments against domestic violence laws start making more sense despite one's abstract knowledge of the cycle of violence and all that, and perspective erodes.

That's why the occasional domestic violence case with a third-party witness or good physical evidence is such a breath of fresh air. Plus, most offices I know about rotate the deputy DAs out of the DV court after a tour of duty. In the meantime, the prosecutor just has to stay focused, get what plea bargains he can out of the crappy cases, dismiss the unprovable ones, and go on to the next case.

Sorry, just a vent!

Steve Buchheit | October 16, 2006 07:25 PM

Eric, again a misdemeanor is at the discretion of the responding officer. This is like getting a traffic ticket, if the offense/fine is below a certain level the officer can opt to give a verbal warning instead of writing a citation. Taking the crime to a felony removes that option. While an officer in pure existential mode could ignore the crime, the officer can then be charged as an accessory. This makes it more likely that the officer would pursue the case and place the perp under arrest.

And while these laws could just be politics, all laws are political. Frankly I endorse this kind of law making domestic violence a separate crime from assault and battery. I remember the climate before these laws, and it is better on this end. And yes I would agree some people are wrongly accused, that's what defense attorneys and "presumed innocent" are for. And as CJ says, most cases dissolve before going in front of a judge.

Also, for this Constitutional Amendment, which was Issue Two on the ballot, I forget which Amendment number it actually was, didn't go through any Legislator. This was a pure citizen petition, just like the Smoke-less Amendment up for vote this fall. While some legislators supported the amendment against Gay Marriage, it was written by these nut jobs that are filing the amicus brief with the court.

I would agree, most people who voted for the Amendment had no idea the full ramifications. And that was because of the mis-information campaigns and the intense polarization of the debate.

And CJ, I would say the argument should be "shouldn't we have more resources for the Prosecutor's and Public Defendant Offices? Should the responsibility of the government, which in this case is taking the role of the community, extend to the victim more support/counseling?" I agree it's a pain in the rump, but I would rather this happen and have a chance that one or three of these bastages go to jail then to go back to ignoring it and letting the bodies pile up.

CJ-in-Weld | October 16, 2006 07:36 PM

Steve Buchheit says:

"And CJ, I would say the argument should be "shouldn't we have more resources for the Prosecutor's and Public Defendant Offices? Should the responsibility of the government, which in this case is taking the role of the community, extend to the victim more support/counseling?" I agree it's a pain in the rump, but I would rather this happen and have a chance that one or three of these bastages go to jail then to go back to ignoring it and letting the bodies pile up."

Well, sure, as a dutiful appointee of an elected official, I'm all over more resources for my office!

The question remains, though: given that resources will always be finite, why do we direct diproportionate resources (courtroom time, case prep time, etc.) on cases involving adult victims who don't want our help, instead of redirecting resources to cases with adult victims who do?

(By the way: I know several ways to answer this. Some of them have appeared on this thread already. I am not advocating throwing in the towel on domestic violence!)

Prosecution is an art, not a science. You pick your cases based on a combination of provability, seriousness of the case, record of the accused, and you make the call: plea bargain, trial, or dismissal. And you have to guard against burnout: when one of the people you plea bargained goes out and does the same thing only worse - I would guess a statistical near-certainty that will happen in a normal career - you have to be able to honestly say to yourself that you did the best you could with what you had to work with.

Steve Buchheit | October 16, 2006 07:49 PM

CJ, yeah, I'd through back the issues I'm sure you already know: co-dependency, abusee/victim mentality, etc. All the reasons that given the choice the beat cop is going to pick the druggie with the knife over the domestic call.

And we do it (I'm on the legislative side) because it's *that* important.

As a side note, one of the many reasons why I am a strong advocate for this is that I was put in the position of having to intervene as one woman was trying to make her escape because the Akron police in 1986 wouldn't respond to four 911 calls (three from me and the woman who became my wife and one from the woman trying to get away from an abuser whom had a long rap sheet and the local cops knew about him) and it was the choice of watching her get beaten or doing something. As I was told, the police don't like to get involved in such calls for only a misdemeanor charge that would probably be dropped. Fortunately the officers (when they did arrive from another 911 call form another neighbor) did have the courage to say they didn't see the wooden club I had, or me causing his bruises as they placed me at the end of the driveway when they arrived at the scene.

Josh Jasper | October 16, 2006 08:54 PM

I swear to God, if NY were a seperate nation, you poor Ohioans would be up for refugee status.

Nathan | October 16, 2006 09:20 PM


Josh,

It's considered somewhat rude to visit someone's home and then tell them they have hideous carpets......even if their carpets are hideous. lol

Brenta | October 16, 2006 10:15 PM

Ah, yes, a "marriage amendment" is also the first proposed amendment question on Virginia's ballot this November.

A site arguing against the amendment (http://www.votenova.org/resources) in fact cites Ohio as an example of why people should vote AGAINST the amendment: "If the amendment is adopted, a judge could find (as has been the case in Ohio) that the amendment prohibits enforcement of Virginia's domestic violence laws where violence is between two unmarried people who are living in the same household (perhaps with children common to both or belonging to one)."

For November 7, I find myself hoping Virginia voters remember Nancy Reagan's famous, "Just say no" campaign by voting NO on that proposed amendment. Because look how it's working in Ohio.

Ron | October 17, 2006 10:59 AM

I don't get the 11 thing. ONE!!1!!
??
Is it cause they're the same number? So they shouldn't be next to each other? Cause it's wrong? Or is it new haxor stuff I'm not up on?

Also, I just read Old Man's War, and it was pretty good.

Jon | October 17, 2006 11:35 AM

I absolutely hate it when these half-witted hypocrites claim that their stupidity and hatred is part of their christianity. Real christians THINK. Focus on the Family et al are nothing but hate groups, like the KKK, and their claim to christianity is spurious and facetious. Please don't think that all christians are like these hate-mongering fools. Most of us aren't.

Tor | October 17, 2006 11:45 AM

The !!1!!!ONE!! thing is a leet speak joke - people who tended to put a lot of exclamation points after something they wrote sometimes didn't shift for every character, so you would see !!11!!! - and the ONE is a play on that, showing that your enthusiasm is meant ironically or at least not entirely seriously i.e. that you are pretending to be excited, but really aren't...

Tor | October 17, 2006 11:56 AM

Actually, the definitional section of the Virgiana Domestic Violence law states:

(v)any individual who has a child in common with the person, whether or not the person and that individual have been married or have resided together at any time, or (vi) any individual who cohabits or who, within the previous 12 months, cohabited with the person, and any children of either of them then residing in the same home with the person.

So it doesn't incorporate common law marriage as part of the definition - which doesn't mean that abusers won't try to use the Ohio argument - just that they are unlikely to be successful. Which is good news, in that domestic violence will continue to be prosecuted against unmarried abusers, but makes the votenova people less credible, as they report on their site (through an op ed published elsewhere) that the VA statute is almost identical to the Ohio statute.

Which doesn't mean that the same sex marriage amendment is good - just that it is less bad than the Ohio one.

Eric | October 17, 2006 12:52 PM

Steve,

In NC, where I'm an Assistant Public Defender, the police officer's authority or duty to arrest has little at all to do with whether the suspected crime is a misdemeanor or a felony. An officer who does not have a warrant may still arrest for a misdemeanor committed outside his presence if he has probable cause to believe the suspect will not be apprehended without immediate arrest, poses a danger to himself or others, or that the offense was an assault against someone the suspect had a personal relationship with as defined by our DV statute (NC's DV statute does cover unmarried opposite-gender relationships, but not same-gender relationships). Under NC law, some DV-related offenses are only misdemeanors, others are felonies (the nature of the assault being the main issue).

One of the other things I didn't want to say--hence a reticence in bringing up that I also deal with this professionally--is that handling these cases is also demoralizing from the defense side, even though it's pretty easy to get these kinds of cases dismissed before or during trial. These cases often add to our already high caseloads--only to evaporate five minutes after we walk into the courtrooms. And I sympathize with the prosecution's side: it's not their fault they feel duty-obliged to stick up for people who often seem to be conspiring against them. In the end, CJ's question applies to both sides: with finite resources, should we be burning time and money with presumably capable adults who don't really want help? (Don't ask me how many times I've told a client to stay away from his girlfriend who's always taking out charges that may-or-may-not be bogus. And please don't ask how many of these idiots actually listen to their lawyers.) CJ mentioned protecting adults--realistically, the money and time could be even better spent protecting kids: protection from abusers and predators on CJ's side of the aisle, and added funding for delinquency prevention and juvenile justice on my side of the aisle. (Amazing that diverting attention from one losing issue could make prosecutors and public defenders equally happy--what does that tell you?)

I appreciate your courage, Steve, in standing up for a neighbor: but did you go to court to testify against him? Because there's a good chance his case was dismissed if you weren't there (although if you were, you might have been at the end of some unpleasantness on cross--that's how our system operates, good or ill). As for what the police told you: I hear about that kind of thing a lot. That jaded, "there's nothing we can do so we don't bother until the fifth phone call" thing is understandable--even if they reported to a felony in progress, they would need to have probable cause or an arrest warrant. The prosecutor would still need to indict the defendant--which would normally require witnesses. If the defendant declined a plea offer, the prosecutor would still have to put witnesses on the stand. And if the alleged victim refuses to show or testifies that nothing happened or that she started it and the defendant was acting in self-defense? It's over.

Finally, let me say that there's politics and there's politics. Enhancing penalties for littering doesn't have the cachet of enhancing penalties for DV, and lobbyists for the environment don't strike terror into the hearts of politicians the way advocacy groups with photos of battered women or of drunk-caused accidents do. The real point in my comments about the political engine behind these DV laws is not that there's no place for them at all (maybe there is): it's that there's no loss for a politician who campaigns on protecting women and children, and the basic unenforceability of these laws means it’s a perennial campaign issue. Not only is it a winning issue, but failure to actually accomplish anything is its own political reward ("Obviously these laws aren't effective enough! We need new laws!"). A politician can appear to be an activist without actually doing anything--how sweet is that? I mean, if you're an activist on tax relief, you might have to deal with a budget shortfall by re-raising taxes or cutting services. If you're an activist about the environment, your opponent in the next election might see an influx of money from factory owners, mill owners, energy companies, pig farmers, etc. But an activist on DV? Who's going to find fault? Wife beaters? Immoral defense attorneys? Incompetent judges? The more you lose the more you win.

Slipping In | October 17, 2006 01:00 PM

In my prior life/career, I interviewed a couple hundred males in a research project on and for a court mandated domestic violence treatment program.

This was a program that judges could sentence men (and women, although I didn't interview them) to after conviction, instead of (or in addition to) jail time.

Everyone (except 1 subject) plead guilty. Half of them claimed that they were railroaded, there was no evidence, they had 10 witnesses, they were covered with scratches and she didn't have a mark on her, etc...

There was a HELL of a lot of minimization and victim blaming. There was less of the good-ole-boy sexism, at least on the surface. A lot of these men had a limited set of social skills, and probably also beat up someone who liked the Bengals, rather than the Browns. Then there was the booze...

Anyway, the judges sent all sorts of relationships to the program. I remember several ex-partners who had violent disputes while doing pick-up and deliveries for visitation. There were other family members not (hopefully!) involved in any sexual relationship, but under one roof who had a physical fight, and ended up in the program.

Bottom line, I suspect that the majority, and probably a sizable majority of the men in this program were NOT in a married relationship with their victim (and sometime victim/co-perpetrator, as they beat the crap out of each other). These were not healthy/safe relationships in sooooo many ways.

The program was reality based, and ideally enough of the cause/effect/consequence material form the course sunk in that there wouldn't be later violence. The looming fact that the second offense could be upgraded to a felony gave a lot of weight to this, and made making right decisions so much more important, at least to the smarter participants.

If unmarried abusers are given a free pass on that later felony, it could get ugly. Personally, I think punishment on all violent crime is too light, and wouldn't mind more upgrades for repeat offenders. I have had clients serve SERIOUS time for victimless (albeit stupid) crimes, and I've had clients who repeatedly and willfully seriously harmed another human being never see the inside of a jail, once they made bail.

Steve Buchheit | October 17, 2006 02:07 PM

Eric, yes I was lucky. The guy was released the next morning and hightailed it to PA (from what I understand), the woman put the house up for sale and moved to Indiana, never got even a thank you from her. If I knew then what I know now I still would have intervened, but I wouldn't have restrained myself and would probably have had to avail myself of the Akron Public Defender's Office.

I think the disconnect in our discussion is you're saying that the officer can make an arrest even for a misdemeanor they don't witness, I have no argument there. I'm saying the officer can say, "no (visible) harm, no foul." Given that the officers would also have to be in court and that there is a lot of psychology happening which leads to codependency, victim mentality, etc which could lead the victim to attack the officer (even if the abuse is severe, probably more so in that case) if the officer makes an arrest, there was a tendency for officers to "let it slide." Also see your comments about how quickly the cases collapse, you can also see why an officer would be reluctant to make an arrest. If there is the possibility of a felony having occurred, the officer has fewer options that way.

Yes it's political, and it maybe "easy" to make these laws. But that doesn't mean that extra penalties attached to this crime isn't a good idea. We should treat these crimes differently than say people who take a swing at each other in a bar because there is a different intent, motivation, and outcome.

That these cases are difficult to prosecute and easy to defend shouldn't be the issue. Removing abusers from the home protects kids more than having social services check up on them. Removing the abuser from the home increases the likely hood that the victim will seek out a shelter or other services. Now if we can continue the process from the tougher law to include more civic education and outreach we may start winning against abuse. A similar campaign was waged against rape in the late 70's and early 80's, and while that situation isn't "resolved" it's certainly a better climate than it was. We need to continue the public discussion while we say "this isn't normal, and as a culture we won't stand for it happening."

Yes I understand that hurdle is a huge one. In the late 1800's Freud announced to the Paris review that he had found the Hellespont of neurosis. It was sexual, physical and mental abuse of children, specifically girls. He was censured for 8 years until he came back with Oedipal Complex, Penis Envy, and Dictionary of Dreams. That was over a hundred years ago and people still can't talk about it. So, yeah, I understand it's still a problem.

Jon | October 17, 2006 02:17 PM

A quick Lexis-Nexis search will show that in the 2004 exit polls, 55% of voters said they believed the country was safer from terrorism than it was four years earlier. Fifty-two percent agreed with the notion that Iraq is part of the war on terrorism. Fifty-one percent approved of the job Bush was doing. Fifty-three percent gave a negative opinion of the state of the economy. And 63% of those polled supported some kind of legal recognition for gay couples. To look at those numbers and still attribute the Republican victories in 2004 to anti-gay sentiment is absurd.



That said, I find it fitting that these constitutional amendments have come back to bite Straighty on the ass. Maybe the thought of defenseless women being battered, or the specter of those battered women exacting their revenge on boyfriends and lovers, will prompt voters to reconsider their actions. Wouldn't be the first time a constitutional amendment was required to remediate the effects of an earlier, ill-considered amendment. (18th and 21st U.S. constitutional amendments, I'm looking your way...)

Alex | October 17, 2006 02:27 PM

Gaaah. These social conservatives make me so distressed.

If an abuse girlfriend in Ohio shoots her no-good abusive boyfriend would she be charged with misdemeanor manslaughter?

Steve Buchheit | October 17, 2006 02:43 PM

Jon, Ohio was the tipping point for the 2004 election. We had a record turn out for the election including the highest ever turn out from the Amish. Southern Ohio saw massive voter registrations that summer, most of which were through church organizations. Guess which issue they came out for? Guess which counties went overwelmingly for Bush? Guess where Issue Two had its major support? Sorry, Ohio went to Bush (just narrowly) because of the vote over Issue Two. Gays have been Karl Rove's boggie man since he was "the guy with the copier" down in Texas. Since you have Lexus/Nexus do a search on the Ohio Papers about their after election coverage. It's the consensus.

Also, given the psychology of abuse, most victims don't act back. And Alex, most are charged with felony murder (sometimes 1, mostly 3 if I remember my categories properly).

mythago | October 17, 2006 07:19 PM

So they didn't write their amendment to soften domestic-violence laws, but they don't care that this is a result

Quite true, but they have a dim, animal awareness that the majority of people don't agree with them. You can get a lot more of the electorate be anti-gay than pro-beating-up-your-girlfriend.

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