The House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice passed without objection two bills extending domestic violence protection to same-sex couples and to dating partners. They move to the full House for expected debate next week.
Under current law, the victims of domestic violence are given some protections and assistance through the Protection From Family Violence Act. Domestic abuse is considered to be an act of violence committed by one household member to another.
In Louisiana, same-sex couples are not eligible for the assistance because current law defines a household member as “any person of the opposite sex presently or formerly living in the same residence with the defendant as a spouse, whether married or not.”
House Bill 27 by state Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, would amend the definition of household member to include all couples with the elimination of the phrase “opposite sex.”
Two representatives from the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s office said they are not able to charge a suspect in same-sex violence as domestic violence, a more serious crime, instead having to opt for simple battery — a misdemeanor.
“(An abusive partner) should be prosecuted equally as anyone else would whether they’re opposite sex or not,” said state Rep. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge.
The proposed legislation covering dates, House Bill 223
by state Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, saw no resistance.
Current law defines dating partner as “any person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.”
HB 223 would add dating partners to the protection.
“It closes a big loophole we have within our domestic violence laws,” Moreno said.