CLEVELAND – The ACLU of Ohio filed a memorandum as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case, State of Ohio vs. Daniel Forte, regarding Issue 1 and domestic violence. The case will be argued January 27, 2005 at 9 a.m. in Room 19B of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
The Cuyahoga County Public Defender claims in a motion that unmarried, unrelated persons charged with a violation of Ohio’s Domestic Violence statute could not be prosecuted because of Issue 1, which purports to deny benefits of marriage to persons who are not married but “intend to approximate” the legal status of marriage.
The domestic violence statute in question prohibits harming or threatening a “family or household member,” who is defined as “a spouse, a person living as a spouse or a former spouse of the offender.” This includes a person who is living, has lived or is cohabiting with the offender or has cohabited with the offender within five years prior to the alleged attack date.
ACLU of Ohio affirms that because cohabitation is a fact rather than a legal status and does not, therefore, approximate marriage, Issue 1 is irrelevant to the Domestic Violence statute.
“The people of Ohio who voted for Issue 1 never intended to make it OK to beat up unmarried partners,” said Lloyd Snyder, ACLU of Ohio general counsel.