Are same-sex couples protected by domestic violence laws?

Do other areas of the law need to catch up to the constitutional right to gay marriage? A recent article exposed a deficiency regarding domestic violence protections.

Domestic violence is an area regulated by both federal and state law, depending on the specific allegations of violence. Across the country, a few states have proactively included gender-neutral references in their family law statutes. In other states, individuals have been forced to bring litigation.

In a recent example, a woman in another state sought a protective order against her former same-sex fiancée. The applicable state law permitted unmarried heterosexual couples to request such protections, but not unmarried same-sex couples. A court ruling is expected in several months.

Pursuant to the Maryland Family Law Code, protection against domestic abuse may be available for alleged acts of assault, stalking, false imprisonment, or any act that causes or places the victim in fear of imminent and serious physical injury. Those same rights should also be available to individuals in a same-sex relationship or marriage.

Our family law firm offers comprehensive services in matters of divorce, separation, child custody, estate planning, and/or domestic violence. The breadth of our legal practice allows us to provide more thorough attention to our clients, helping them not only with an immediate problem, but also proactively anticipating future family law needs. If you have questions about whether a legal provision applies to your same-sex relationship, our attorneys can help get you the answer.

Source: Associated Press, "State court: Domestic violence law unfair to gay couples," Meg Kinnard, March 24, 2016