Vote No On 2 Campaign's Fan Box

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Amendment 2: Legal Nightmare for Domestic Violence Laws

Amendment 2: Legal Nightmare

As a longtime advocate for domestic violence survivors, I am deeply concerned that Amendment 2 could have a serious negative impact on domestic violence survivors who turn to the criminal or civil legal system for help.

CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse) provides emergency shelter for families fleeing violence at home. Families who use our shelter are in some of the most dangerous situations imaginable. Over half of the women we shelter (and a few men) are not legally married to the person who abused them.

The so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" appears to intentionally block legal protections for unmarried Floridians using legally undefined language: "Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized."

What is the "substantial equivalent"? What will it mean for domestic violence laws that recognize people "living as if a family"? The courts will be forced to decide.

Much has been written about the danger Amendment 2 poses for firefighters, police officers, seniors and all unmarried couples who may lose essential health care benefits. However, we must also pay attention to how the language of this amendment may lead to serious consequences, especially for battered women.