Unintended Consequences

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

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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.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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