Do Kentucky women — even if they have never lived with a man or had a child — deserve the same protections from violence as women in other states?
Of course. Who would say anything else?
Well, the Kentucky Senate.
More specifically, Senate President David Williams and his fellow Republican leaders, who tightly control the flow of legislation in that chamber.
They have yet to allow a Judiciary Committee hearing on House Bill 35, which would expand the law on protective orders to include people who have been in dating relationships.
Forty-four states, including six of the seven bordering Kentucky, and the District of Columbia include victims of dating violence in their protective order laws.
The age group dominated by single women is especially vulnerable. Research shows that young women, ages 16 to 24, are the most likely to experience relationship violence. A third of female college students report having been the victim of dating violence.
For the second year in a row, the House has overwhelmingly approved expanding the protective order law.
HB 35 was approved 93-3 on Feb. 8. (Lexington voters, take note. Rep. Stan Lee cast one of the three House votes against protecting single women.)
If the bill is again doomed in the Senate, Williams and his fellow Republicans should explain why.
The objections we've heard don't wash: It's asking too much of judges, opponents say, to determine whether someone really was in a dating relationship with the person against whom the protective order is sought.
If judges in 44 other states and D.C. can make this judgment, we're confident Kentucky judges can, too. Senate Republicans don't think our judges are less astute, do they?
Protective orders are working well in Kentucky, according to a 2009 University of Kentucky study of 213 domestic violence victims. Half reported no violations of the order in the first six months.
The victims who did experience violations said the violence and abuse were significantly reduced, as was their level of fear.
Yet opponents of HB 35 say certain Kentuckians should be denied access to a system that's working and instead file criminal complaints. It doesn't make sense.
Capitol observers suspect the real objection among Senate Republicans is the prospect of gay men obtaining protective orders under an expanded law.
This makes no sense, either, because same-sex couples who have lived together already can obtain protective orders, under a 1997 court ruling.
Last year, during the debate on Amanda's Law, which authorized electronic monitoring in certain domestic violence cases, some Republicans in the Senate displayed an ugly streak of misogyny toward those who seek protection from domestic violence.
It's awful to think that's the prevailing view among those who control the Senate.
But it's hard to think otherwise as long as they deny Kentucky women protections that are available to women in most states.