For the fifth time in five years, a measure to extend domestic violence protections to dating couples has passed a House committee.
Each year, the bill passes the House with an overwhelming majority only to die in the Republican-controlled Senate, and each year Kentucky remains one of the last states not to afford such protections to its citizens.
We hope that this year will be different. The Senate should finally extend domestic violence protections to all couples, whether married or dating, by passing House Bill 8, sponsored by House Judiciary chairman John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville.
Gov. Steve Beshear also called for the law's passage in his State of the Commonwealth address this week. "Violence is violence and abuse is abuse," he said.
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We couldn't agree more.
To obtain a protective order in Kentucky, a victim must either have lived with, been married to, or had a child with the alleged abuser. HB 8 would enable people to receive protective orders against those whom they have been in "a relationship of a romantic or intimate nature" with over the previous three years.
Not only is this legislation the right thing to do for those who have suffered abuse but it also is much more cost-effective to pursue a protective order in civil court instead of filing criminal charges that require lengthy prosecutions and incarcerations.
But Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, has made disappointing remarks on the bill.
"If somebody did something to my daughters in a dating situation ... I know there are protections out there," he told the Herald-Leader. "So is there any need for them to get an EPO or a DVO? No there's not," he continued, referring to emergency protective orders and domestic violence orders.
Stivers seems to misunderstand. Why wait for violence to be inflicted before the legal system can step in?
In addition to improving the life of the victim, the orders serve as wake-up calls for the alleged abusers who can reform themselves before committing a felony that destroys their lives.
Domestic violence knows no party lines nor social status. It inflicts incalculable harm on Kentuckians and anything that reduces it deserves bipartisan support.
It's time for the Senate to give Kentuckians the same protections afforded to the citizens of other states.