In the entire United States, there’s only one state that doesn’t allow people in same-sex dating relationships to get a restraining order should the romance turn violent.
Anyone who becomes a victim of domestic violence can go to the police and file criminal charges in North Carolina.
But criminal cases can take time, and when there’s a greater sense of urgency, many opt for a restraining order – also known as a 50(B) protective order.
A restraining order can prohibit the alleged abuser from coming near the victim, force them to give up their guns or lose custody of their children.
Married people, straight or gay, can file for a restraining order. Divorced couples, as well as parents and children, have the legal option as well.
But in the Tar Heel state, when it comes to folks who are just dating, the state law on restraining orders only applies to “persons of the opposite sex.”
According to the NewsObserver, the loophole became news after a Wake County woman attempted to get a protective order against her ex-girlfriend last May.
At the time, the judge denied her request. The woman filed again a month later, and was rebuffed again thanks to the language of the law.
Now, the state Attorney General, Josh Stein, is working through the courts to have the law overturned.
Stein, a Democrat, filed a legal brief earlier this week saying the law is unconstitutional because it singles out LGBTQ people and denies them equal protection and due process under the law.
Gov. Roy Cooper, also a Democrat, agrees and has asked to join Stein’s efforts.
Additionally, LGBTQ advocacy group Equality NC has also filed a brief in support of Stein’s efforts.
In their ‘friend of the court’ filing, Equality NC writes that since “the threat of intimate partner violence does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, neither should the State in protecting individuals from such violence.”
“Otherwise, there is no constitutionally guaranteed ‘equal dignity in the eyes of the law’ for same-sex relationships,” the brief continues.
Stein has support from the ACLU of North Carolina as well as the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police.
The NewsObserver notes there are other legal options available to same-sex victims of abuse.
The woman who originally filed her request in May was eventually granted a 50(C) no-contact order. However, that kind of restraining order doesn’t give a judge the authority to revoke an alleged abuser’s right to own guns.
The woman’s primary concern for protection was predicated on threats of physical violence from her former girlfriend as well as her access to guns.