North Carolina became the last state in the nation to provide domestic violence protections to LGBTQ people after making such protections mandatory in a new ruling from the state’s Court of Appeals.
“We know intimate partner violence doesn’t discriminate, and neither should state laws protecting people from that violence,” Irena Como, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of North Carolina told WRAL.com.
Como represented the woman who challenged the law that had prohibited people in same-sex relationships from receiving intimate partner violence protections under the law.
The state law, 50B protective orders, limited protection to “persons of opposite sex who live together or have lived together” or “persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship.” Protections under 50B also extended to people who have a child together or share a household.
With the 50B protective order, an accused abuser can be legally evicted, required to give up all firearms, temporarily lose the right to buy another weapon, and gives law enforcement authority to arrest the person if they violate the order.
Before the state’s ruling, people in same-sex relationships weren’t entitled to the same protections under the law.
A 2017 report by the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that LGBTQ people face intimate partner violence at similar or higher rates than heterosexual people.
The Wake County woman, named as “M.E.” in court documents, challenged the law beginning in 2018, after enduring abuse while in a relationship with another woman. Initially, a judge denied M.E. 's request for 50B protection, suggesting she get 50C protection which grants a civil no-contact order.
The 50C order, however, doesn’t require an accused abuser to surrender firearms. According to a report by NBC News, M.E. told the courts her former partner had access to a firearm that 50C protection wouldn’t remove.
“People in same-sex dating relationships were relegated to lower protections just because of their LGBTQ state,” Como stated.
Chief Judge Linda McGee wrote in the ruling, “Instead, by denying Plaintiff and similarly situated people the protections it provides victims of domestic violence in ‘opposite-sex’ dating relationships, runs directly counter to the promotion of the public good, welfare, morals, safety, and any other legitimate public interests of the State.”
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