Louisiana representatives hope to change domestic violence laws to include same-sex couples and “dating-partners.”
Despite evidence of men and women being murdered by their same-sex significant others, LGBT couples are not protected under Louisiana domestic abuse laws. Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, hopes to change this legislative session. Louisiana’s existing laws maintain harsher penalties to offenders of domestic abuse than of simple battery and aggravated assault. A repeat offender of domestic abuse is increased to a felony charge after their second misdemeanor. Because same-sex couples are not included in this law, the punishment is not as severe and the victims do not receive the same assistance as those in heterosexual abusive relationships. Currently, Connick is sponsoring House Bill 27 which will allow for same-sex couples to have the same rights as heterosexual couples in cases of domestic abuse.
Mandy Cowley, the director of Baton Rouge’s Iris Domestic Violence Center, is happy to see a representative taking charge to help the LGBT community. Cowley explains that research has found domestic abuse to be just as prevalent in same-sex couples as heterosexual ones and therefore demands the same attention.
State Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, also hopes to change her state’s domestic violence laws. Moreno recognizes that though partners may not have lived together there is still a possibility of abuse. “Dating-partners,” which Moreno defines as, “people in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature,” currently are not being protected by domestic abuse laws because they do not fall under the statutory definition of partners.
New Orleans’s Protection from Dating Violence Act provides victims of abuse with treatment and assistance obtaining restraining orders, but Moreno feels there is more to be done. House Bill 223, which would legally classify dating-partner violence as domestic abuse, would cause defendants to receive harsher penalties with each offense and victims to receive more effective help.
Both Connick and Moreno are optimistic about their bills passing. Connick, who authored House Bill 27, hope support from the district attorney will increase the likelihood that the bill will pass. Moreno believes that since first proposing the idea for House Bill 223 in 2015, more legislators have begun to recognize the loophole in the law.
To learn more about this topic please read “Legislators work to close ‘loopholes’ in domestic violence laws that don’t cover same-sex couples, dating partners.”
Toohey, G. (2017, April 17). Legislators work to close ‘loopholes’ in domestic violence laws that don’t cover same-sex couples, dating partners. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/crime_police/article_ad297e30-206c-11e7-8240-6f611f00ca1e.html