Domestic Violence Protection for Gay People

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Domestic Violence Protection for Gay People

Although one would assume that the laws concerning domestic violence would protect everyone, this is sadly not the case. In many states, laws have been enacted to make it difficult for victims of same-sex domestic violence to get the protection they need.

In all states, courts can issue domestic violence protective orders. These orders are the most significant legal remedy available to victims of abuse.

Domestic violence protective orders are easy to obtain because they are created specifically to combat the rather unique problem of domestic violence, whereas other remedies for domestic violence, such as injunctions and restraining orders, can be costly and difficult to obtain. With domestic violence protective orders, judges have broad discretion to restrain or direct the behavior of the abuser without requiring that criminal charges be applicable to the situation.

For instance, domestic violence protective orders can evict an abuser from a household, regardless of who is on the lease, prevent his access to jointly owned property, or force him to relinquish any weapons that he may own. The biggest benefit is that a domestic violence protective order allows police to arrest an abuser on the spot without any need of an arrest warrant or evidence of criminal activity, since violating a protective order is itself a crime.

Can Homosexual People Get Domestic Violence Protection Orders?

It depends on the state. Most states are gender neutral in their description of such protection orders. However, some states have laws written from a heterosexual perspective only, which can make it difficult or impossible for a battered homosexual, bisexual, or transgender person to escape the cycle of abuse.

If a victim cannot obtain such an order, the victim may have to leave their home and their possessions or suffer huge financial losses just to escape the abusive situation. Even worse, a gay victim of domestic violence may find him/herself arrested by the police if the police can't determine who the aggressor is or if the police automatically assume the aggressor is "the bigger one."

What States Have Laws Concerning Gay Domestic Violence?

The remaining 37 states have laws that are gender neutral, meaning that same-sex victims should be able to get a domestic violence protection order, even though this is not always the case.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are in an abusive same-sex relationship, the most important thing is that you leave your home as soon as you can and head to safe location, such as a family member's house or a shelter for domestic abuse victims.

Even if you are in one of the states that generally prevent same-sex couples from getting the protection they need, a good family law lawyer may know how to secure other remedies for your problem. Regardless of what your state’s laws are, you should contact a family law lawyer immediately to find out what kind of protections are available to you in your state.

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Last Modified: 01-28-2014 11:40 AM PST

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