Hawai’i is the only state to implement an inclusive model.[69] Under the Hawai’i Statutes, a family or household member of the abuser can petition for an order for protection.[70] A family or household member is defined as including reciprocal beneficiaries.[71] The statute states the classification reciprocal beneficiary was constructed with the purpose of affording certain rights and benefits to those who are not allowed to marry under law.[72] The Hawai’i reciprocal beneficiary law uses clear language of inclusion, stating that those who are not able to marry, such as “two individuals who are of the same gender,” should be given the same rights and benefits as those received by married couples.[73] In sum, the Hawai’i code unmistakably states that two individuals of the same gender are considered reciprocal beneficiaries,[74] and as such they are considered family and household members,[75] and may obtain protective orders.[76] Conclusion Domestic abuse is an issue that affects all segments of our population. Studies show similar levels of domestic abuse incidence in same-sex intimate partner relationships and heterosexual intimate partnerships. 162, 169 (2004) (explaining that although victims of same-sex domestic violence are not protected under the Domestic Abuse Assistance statute, they may seek assistance through the Dating Violence statute, La. Zach Kansler, Albany Government Law Review Member Introduction No intimate relationship is immune from the danger of domestic abuse.

States should take a proactive role in the protection of all their citizens, not just those who conform to the antiquated beliefs of their forefathers.

Even the states that allow for orders of protection in SSDA, the construct used may be inadequate, as they neglect to empower and inform the homosexual community of the rights they had been for so long denied.

Domestic violence laws have simply failed to keep up with the ever-present growth and evolution of society, which has changed the structure of the “modern family.”[66] The laws enacted by the majority of states are either blatantly discriminatory[67] or are silent and ambiguous,[68] affording uncertain protection to victims of same-sex domestic violence. [w]ith whom the offender is or was in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship.”).

In order to remedy the harm imposed by certain statutes, new domestic abuse statutes should be constructed with sections that are inclusive and sympathetic to all forms of domestic relationships, including intimate partnerships between same-sex individuals, following the lead of Hawai’i. §§ 51 (2010), such as seeking shelter or counseling). § 236(2)(e)(1) (West 2010) (“The assault is between persons who are in an intimate relationship or have been in an intimate relationship and have had contact within the past year of the assault.”) D. Code § 16-1001(7) (2010) (defining “intimate partner violence” as “an act punishable as a criminal offense that is committed or threatened to be committed by an offender upon a person .

This definition requires there be a male and a female who have or are currently cohabitating.[26] Thus victims of SSDA cannot be granted an order of protection, as they are not in a heterosexual relationship.

Orders of Protection Explicitly Allowed, Via the Judiciary Although perhaps not the in the most preferable form, some states permit the granting of orders of protection to victims of SSDA through judicial interpretation of silent state statutes.[27] In these cases, where the statutory language was silent on the type of relationship required, the courts favored equality.

[1] Despite the similarities in rate of occurrence, and that humans should be treated equally and with dignity, some states expressly treat the personal safety of homosexuals as less valuable than that of heterosexuals.[2] This injustice is manifested in the express lack of availability of a basic legal tool of self-preservation, the order of protection.

Furthermore, where these orders are available to victims of same-sex domestic abuse (“SSDA”), it is not through clear and instructive language, but rather silence, [3] and in some instances, the fortuity of judicial interpretation.[4] This practice of denying victims of SSDA the protection they deserve is a travesty[5] and should be eliminated.

This statutory language is enacted in a genderless fashion where it is silent as to the application of the law and its protections to victims of same-sex domestic violence.[60] In such cases, the victim may not know their legal rights and the abuser may not be deterred from committing abusive behavior, as they may not know that their actions are reprehensible.[61] In this vein, Greg Merrill, director of client services at Community United Against Violence in San Francisco stated, “‘[w]e don’t think about domestic violence in homosexual terms . Law enforcement personal[64] may also allow personal feelings to mettle with their enforcement of a silent law, as “even where there is official recognition of same-sex domestic violence, both internalized homophobia and perceived homophobia on the part of service providers present significant obstacles that victims must overcome.”[65] These instances of institutionalized ill-will, official discretion, and lack of knowledge of rights or penalties show the inherent weaknesses in a silent system.