In North California, LGBT victims of domestic abuse are now protected by law, according to a 2-1 ruling released by the North Carolina Court of Appeals last Thursday, December 31, 2020.
The decision came down following a Wake County woman’s legal battle that started when she requested for a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)—pursuant to Chapter 50B of the North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS)—against her ex-girlfriend in 2019.
Her request for DVPO or a 50(B) order, however, had been rejected. NC Court said it is a protection only “offered to couples of the opposite sex, and to married and divorced same-sex couples, but not for same-sex couples who are dating or who used to date,” The News & Observer reports.
The plaintiff appealed the court’s decision. Her attorneys argued that “Chapter 50B violated North Carolina’s constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Judge Linda McGee, a Democrat and North Carolina Court of Appeals judge who wrote the judicial opinion, said: “LGBTQ people have the same right to liberty that other Americans have. That includes the right to make choices about their romantic partners, and the right to be protected if that relationship becomes dangerous.”
Further, Judge McGee wrote, “By telling Plaintiff that her existence is not as valuable as that of individuals who engage in ‘opposite-sex’ relationships, the State is not just needlessly endangering Plaintiff, it is expressing State-sanctioned animus toward her.”
Judge McGee added that the state law’s limitations “subjected plaintiff to a heightened potential of harassment, or physical abuse, by denying her the more stringent and immediately accessible remedies and protections provided to ‘opposite sex’ victims of domestic violence in situations similar to hers.”
Such rejections in same-sex cases, Judge McGee said, “runs directly counter to the promotion of the public good, welfare, morals, safety and any other legitimate public interests of the state.”
The court ruled that people in same-sex relationships have the same constitutional right to obtain protective orders in domestic violence situations as people in opposite-sex relationships, even if the statute says otherwise. 2/— Josh Stein (@JoshStein_) December 31, 2020
It was my honor & pleasure to present recently both Judge Bryant (who supervised me as an intern at the AGO 27 years ago!) & Chief Judge McGee (misspelled above) with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine on behalf of Gov. Cooper. Enjoy your well-earned retirement and thank you!! 4/4 pic.twitter.com/4N3F754HzA— Josh Stein (@JoshStein_) December 31, 2020
Meanwhile, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper of the Democratic Party, who previously “filed a friend of the court brief advocating for Domestic Violence Protection Orders to apply to same-sex partnerships,” released a statement after the aforementioned ruling came down. He said:
<blockquote>This decision is a win for equality and inclusion and for our fight against domestic violence in North Carolina. State laws should protect everyone equally, including our LGBTQ community, and this ruling makes that clear.</blockquote>
After NC Court of Appeals’ historic ruling, North Carolina’s people who are in a same-sex relationship can now use Domestic Violence Protection Orders under state law to protect themselves from their abusive partners. This makes all 50 states in the U.S.A. to do so.