COLUMBUS- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio welcomed today’s Ohio Supreme Court decision in Carswell v. Ohio, which upheld domestic violence protections for all Ohioans. The case resolved the question of whether Ohio’s anti-gay marriage amendment precludes non-married Ohioans from being prosecuted for domestic violence.
Defense attorneys argued that the amendment’s ambiguous second sentence requiring that the state may not recognize a relationship that “approximates the designs, qualities or significance or effects of marriage” meant that unmarried Ohioans were not entitled to protections under domestic violence law because their relationship was not recognized by the state.
“The Ohio Supreme Court made the right decision today by recognizing the anti-gay marriage amendment was not meant to deny unmarried Ohioans protection from violence and harassment,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeffrey Gamso. “This amendment was passed for a very specific reason and should not be interpreted in such a way that would deny people fundamental rights they already enjoy in Ohio.
”The Carswell case originated out of Warren County, Ohio and was one of many challenges to domestic violence law throughout the state. The decision by the Ohio Supreme Court resolves the conflicting opinions issued by lower state courts on this issue.
For this case, the ACLU of Ohio filed an amicus brief supporting the position of prosecutors that unmarried persons should be subject to protections and prosecution under Ohio domestic violence law. In addition to the ACLU, domestic violence groups, LGBT activist groups and other community groups filed amicus briefs in support of upholding Ohio's domestic violence laws.
“Hopefully, this decision by the Ohio Supreme Court will prevent others from attempting to use the anti-gay marriage amendment in overreaching ways that it was never meant to be.” concluded Gamso.